What is your motto for life? I selected the Latin phrase Omnia Vincit Amor with the cross and alpha and omega letters to symbolize God’s Amazing Love and Eternal Nature. I am writing this post to encourage personal reflection on forgiveness and victory in Christ. The focal verses are Romans 8:35-37, emphasis mine.
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I discuss various quotes from Caleb Mathis’ article: “How I Got Over My Church Hurt Without Losing my Faith.” I write these words for the sole purpose of encouraging others: specifically those who have experienced hurt, disappointment, and other negative experiences while participating or serving in a community of faith. This article is about encouraging personal growth and transformation in Christ as we reflect and seek God’s renewal of our personal lives. I include quotes in this article for the purpose of religious education, discussion, and encouragement: not for personal profit.
If you would like to comment or engage with this article email me at email@example.com.
Main Scripture Passage
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For Your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:2)
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s marvelous grace, forgiveness, and love for His redeemed ensures final victory when history draws to a close. Why did I select these verses?
An Honest Writer
For the past months, I have wrestled with doubt, and grief concerning multiple areas of my life that haven’t worked out. My career choices haven’t worked out for me, and serving in ministry has left me exhausted, and distrustful of other believers. As a person with a sensitive disposition, events in life deeply affect me. I find myself stuck at times reflecting on past hurts and failures. I realize that just as others have disappointed me, I have fallen short as well. I write of these difficulties to encourage you in your journey when you face similar situations.
I am not claiming to have all the answers. Giving simple answers minimizes difficulties and grief; so I don’t propose a simple, five step process for moving through hard times. Some of my worst hurts have come from other believers. So how can a person remain faithful to God when misunderstood and ignored/marginalized by other so called “Christians”?
I want to clarify what I mean by the term “marginalized” and how people experience it. First, marginalization happens when a person/category of people is ignored and neglected. Have you ever asked for understanding and kindness but been dismissed and disregarded? This makes it hard to be transparent and vulnerable with others in our faith communities. Secondly, marginalization occurs when a group excludes/refuses to consider others valuable due to marital status, employment status, and other life situations. This “lack of valuation” appears when individuals are ignored or pacified instead of being investing and incorporated in the larger church body. Third, this process also happens when a person who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or some other emotional issue is cast aside or excluded, or shown pity instead of respect. Fourth, individuals are welcome only when or as they “serve or give of themselves” in a position that benefits others. In other terms, when a person is considered a hired hand instead of a valued partner.
Why are married couples with children seemingly valued over single people in our churches? What about single mothers? Divorcees or others who don’t fit the typical family structure? Why do others neglect or refuse to reach out when he/she is aware that someone is in a difficult season?
Jesus give us numerous examples of how we should relate to others in the Gospels, but I find that this is rarely practiced. And we wonder why non-believers hesitate to visit our faith communities or come then never return! How can someone deal with all of this? I suggest that we practice forgiveness and seek to be like Christ as individuals! Change starts when God transforms individuals and this impacts the larger community.
Truth About Forgiveness
I struggle to forgive others; consequently, God convicts me of this frequently. I find myself more willing to remember and dwell on wrongs than rights. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Telling someone to “forget and forgive” is mistaken advice that minimizes another’s pain and distorts the truth. Forgiveness is both a choice and process. It begins when we first recognize the bitter seeds taking root and recall God’s grace to us. Caleb Mathis reminds us:
We toss around the phrase “forgive and forget,” but that’s not what I experienced. I needed to “forgive and remember.” Forgive the hurt, and remember the ancient faith I claimed to belong to. Remembering the forgiveness I had received empowered me to give it to those who hurt me. Remembering the identity God had given me loosened my grip on the identity hurt tried to force on me. Remembering the promise of God’s justice and healing meant I didn’t have to figure that out and could move on.https://www.crossroads.net/media/articles/how-i-got-over-my-church-hurt-without-losing-my-faith
God has shown us great grace and mercy in that He convicts, redeems, and restores us. When I think of the many times He has graciously forgiven me, I realize just how important it is to invite Him to empower me to forgive others. Forgiving others doesn’t mean that we deny the hurt we experienced or fail to set appropriate boundaries. Forgiveness means that we invite God to begin the process of restoration. Forgiveness includes remembering who we are in Christ (Romans 8:37). We are conquerors, victorious warriors, not the conquered! God is victorious over our failures and slowness to forgive. God is also victorious over our cold, hard-heart tendencies and imperfect love for others.
Greek Word for Forgiveness Aphiemi:
An Invitation to Move Forward to Something Better
The Greek word for forgiveness in the New Testament is aphemi. It’s a miraculous word. It means letting go or leaving behind. It’s used for “forgiveness” in the teachings of Jesus, but it’s also used in the same books to indicate “moving on.” When Jesus called His first disciples, a group of fishermen, to follow Him, the Bible says they aphemied their nets and aphemied their boats (Matthew 4:20, 22). They left them behind and moved on to something better.
Just like those first disciples abandoned their ownership of nets and boats, God was waiting for me to do likewise.Caleb Mathis
Recently, I have realized that it’s easier to stay hurt and bitter than to be restored and move forward. Moving forward means that we let our past hurts and struggles rest in God’s Presence trusting Him to sort it out. This process requires that we recognize/claim our hurts and consider how we too have hurt others. This is crucial to remembering and reclaiming our identity in Christ! Do we define ourselves by our failures and how others have hurt us? Why is this an issue?
To stop letting my hurt define me and remember that that had always been His job. To stop owning my desire for punishment and retribution and remember that God isn’t just a loving father. He’s a righteous judge. To stop allowing the situation to dominate every thought, every conversation, every moment of my days, and get back to the art of living.Caleb Mathis
Our identity is in Christ, not in what others have done or failed to do in our lives! If we make our life about success, prosperity, fame, and popularity we’re building on the sinking sands of circumstance and dependence on things/others. Jesus is our Firm Foundation that endures the storms of life. Consider the truth “that because He lives I can face tomorrow” and that we aren’t promised an easy or comfortable faith journey.
More than Conquerors!
Have you considered the meaning of this phrase? First, we recall the setting and placement of this truth in Romans. Paul is writing to the believers in Rome. They would have witnessed Roman triumphant parades wherein victorious Roman legions would parade through the streets of Rome. Paul proclaims various truths in Romans Chapter Eight:
- no condemnation for those in Christ as Jesus was our Sin offering,
- Holy Spirit makes us alive in Christ–walk by Spirit not by flesh
- Promise of life and heir in Christ
- Promise of future glory in Christ, renewed creation and redemption
- Holy Spirit helps us in our weak moments by interceding for us
- Truth that God is working for our Ultimate Good which is to be made into His Son’s Likeness
For more check out the post below:
For verse by verse commentary on Romans 8
Romans Chapter 8
God conquerors all including our failures and difficulties and what others do/fail to do in our lives! He is greater than our lack of forgiveness and grace! He calls us to repentance and restores us! God’s love and judgment are sufficient for our hurts. His grace works to soften our hearts and flow through our lives. We don’t have to avenge because we know that He will righteously judge us and those who have hurt us.
Choosing to trust God’s justice frees us from the consuming desire and need to strike back against others. As we trust in God, He increases our compassion, kindness, mercy, and love for others-even to those who hurt us. This is a process and a daily choice. May God grant you hope, courage, and mercy as you seek to be more like Him!