What is “His Encouragement?”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. Since I’m a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning to my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday. We are calling the series, “His Encouragement.”
It is my prayer that these words of encouragement inspired by scripture will help to carry you through the rest of your week My prayer is that this weekly series will be a much needed reminder that God loves you.
Forgiveness Takes Strength
“He [the LORD] also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
Full Lectionary Reading: Hebrews 10:11-25
When I was a little girl, a well meaning family member purchased an early Christmas present for me that I absolutely adored: a bright red superhero cape.
I was delighted with the present. I tied the cape around my shoulders and ran through the house yelling, “I’m Super Girl! I’m Wonder Woman!”
“No running inside,” said my long suffering grandmother. “Go outside to play.”
Eagerly, I rushed outside of the house. My grandparents had a wide open front porch that was, in my mind, the perfect length for a runway.
“I can fly! I can fly!” I screamed with joy as I raced to the edge of the patio. “Look at me! I can fly!”
I threw myself with abandon into the air. For one weightless moment, it really did seem as if I was flying. Then, I crashed to the ground with a solid thump.
I was lucky that my grandparents’ home had a soft lawn to break my fall. Sadly, I wasn’t a very bright child. After taking a few moments to catch my breath, I got to my feet and tried again to fly.
I tried again-
I spent many long happy evenings attempting to fly after taking a running leap from my grandparents porch. I had almost forgotten about my many failed attempts until, years later as an adult, I saw a picture on Facebook of a similar red cape; however, this one included a warning label that said, “WARNING: PRODUCT DOES NOT ENABLE YOU TO FLY.”
Apparently, I was not the only child who had dreams of being a superhero.
What does strength look like?
I’ve always been drawn to the stories of heroes. Growing up, I admired Xena, She Ra, and the Ninja Turtles. As an adult, I love Wonder Woman and Arya Stark. Despite their differences, I can’t help but picture heroes as strong and capable.
The rest of America seems to agree with me. Consider Super Man, perhaps the most recognizable superhero in my country. Everyone knows that he is, “The strongest man alive!”
When we visualize what it means to be strong, few of us close our eyes and picture a humble carpenter from Nazareth.
Jesus was not what anyone was expecting when they pictured the Messiah. When the people imagined the coming of the Messiah, they visualized a hero like King David. They wanted a warrior king who would lead them to freedom from their Roman oppressors.
When they visualized the Messiah, the people envisioned a stately king with a sword and shield on the back of a white horse. Instead, they got a lowly rabbi who entered who Jerusalem on the back of a lowly donkey.
This humble King did eventually get a crown- a crown of thorns.
To the people, the crucifixion of Christ looked like defeat. How could a King allow himself to be tortured, humiliated and beaten? It is easy to understand how, when Christ died on the cross, it seemed to even His closest friends that death had won.
When we imagine strength, we do not visualize a man, beaten and bloody, with his arms stretched wide on a cross-
but we should.
The strength of Christ is so amazing that it turns the entire world upside down. It sets the captive free and restores the sight to the blind. Christ’s strength is so strong that it can conquer death itself.
What is even more amazing is that Christ died for each and every one of us. The death of Christ sets us free from sin. Christ is strong enough to forgive each and every one of our sins, if only we ask.
True Forgiveness Takes Great Strength
If you’ve ever tried to forgive someone who has wronged you, then you have an idea of just how hard forgiveness can be.
I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ home when I was young. One evening, my grandparents were fighting, as married couples do from time to time. My grandmother turned to my grandfather. Her voice was loud with anger when she told him, “I will never forgive you.”
My mother and I are too much alike. I love my mother very much, but we can’t be in the same house for very long without clashing. The problem lies in the fact that we are so similar. When I was in graduate school, my mother and I had a terrible fight over the phone.
“I will never forgive you!” I shouted as I angrily ended the call.
Time has a way of helping to heal our hearts. Time passed, and it wasn’t too long before my grandmother forgave my grandfather (although it helped that her purchased a new outfit for her from her favorite department store). They were married for fifty years when my grandfather passed.
Eventually, my mother and I forgave each other. We still clash from time to time, but we continue to work on our relationship.
Thankful for Forgiveness
Some sins are easy to forgive. Others are much harder. Forgiveness is a process that sometimes takes many years.
Imagine how strong Jesus must be, in order to forgive our sins as soon as we ask. I know how hard it is to forgive just one person. I can’t begin to fathom the love of a Savior who can redeem the entire world.
I am further humbled when I imagine how strong Christ must be in order to forgive me. I know that I have sinned. If all the world knew what I have thought and done, I would be ashamed. Perhaps you feel the same way. None of us are perfect.
The Good News lies in the fact that we worship a Savior who is strong enough to forgive any sin and any mistake.
I used to think that strength looked like Wonder Woman or Superman. Now, I know true strength looks like a couple who is willing to work together to save their marriage or a parent who is willing to forgive their rebellious child.
Strength doesn’t look like we expect. It looks like an empty tomb on Easter morning.
This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for the many earthly blessings in our lives. Let us praise God for food, family, and a home. These are all good gifts; however, on this busy Thanksgiving day, I encourage you to take a quiet moment and to earnestly thank God for the most precious gift of all, the gift of a savior who is strong enough to forgive our sins.
Until next time-
Peace Be With You,
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!