I know of a wife who was wronged by her husband. She became angry and unforgiving, but she knew this was destroying her. As a believer, she knew she needed God’s help.
She also knew that if she were to experience God’s help, she had to do her part. So she decided to extend some sympathy to her husband and listen to his side of the story. As she did, she understood him better and felt freer to relinquish her anger. She also decided to seek her husband’s forgiveness for her wrong attitude. It was then, to her joy, that “God showed up.”
"A friend was specifically praying that I would be willing to do whatever God wanted me to do. After tremendous conviction and a broken, humbled spirit, I knew I had to write Blake a letter apologizing to him, not only for not respecting him like I should have, but also apologizing for not handling my anger in godly ways. I also included some other things such as telling him some things I appreciated about him.
Until that day, I didn’t even realize how angry I was. After I wrote the letter, I felt like a heavy load had been lifted, and I had tremendous peace. It was the most supernatural thing I had ever experienced. I had no idea what was going to happen from there, but I just acted out of obedience, and it has been amazing how God has blessed me and also brought some healing to our marriage."
This wife acted out of obedience and faith, anticipating (trusting and hoping) that God would work in her marriage, and He did. Notice what she did that contributed to moving things along. Because she had sympathized and relinquished her bitterness, she found herself wanting to do something positive for her husband. She blessed her husband by telling him some things she appreciated about him. Her husband may have deserved cursing, but this wife chose to bless instead. She lived out Peter’s advice, “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
Did she inherit a blessing? Her own words say it well: “it has been amazing how God has blessed me.”
If you have been angry and unforgiving but have slowly moved through the steps of sympathizing and relinquishing, I pray that you will move forward, anticipating God’s touch on your marriage. Yes, perhaps your spouse should make the first move and ask for your forgiveness. But what if your spouse is not as mature as you are or is more rebellious than you are? Will you remain an unforgiving soul? Is it worth forfeiting the power of God in your heart?
As I finish this series on forgiveness, let me emphasize that these three steps offer guidance on a path toward forgiveness. Anytime something is described in terms of three steps, it can sound like a formula to be followed to the letter. But the point is, all three of these steps put you in a more open frame of mind to allow the Holy Spirit to work within you.
Will you allow God’s healing power to free you from the bondage of unforgiveness? ANTICIPATE what God can do!
Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.