Testimony Tuesday with Beth Johanson

Forgiveness

Beth is my youngest sister. We’ve shed many tears together. Here is her story.

Testimony Tuesday with Beth Johanson

My first thought when I see the word testimony is in relation to how and when a person initially responds to their invitation from God. Well, this is not that sort of testimony. You see I, oh my name is Beth, by the way, have been serving Christ in some form or fashion for quite a few years. I am a mother of two teens and have taught the Bible to children in church.

This testimony is tough to tell, tough to experience, and probably tough for others to hear. You see this testimony stems from that dreaded word—forgiveness. If you have ever gone to church and cringed when you heard the preacher announce a sermon of forgiveness, trust me, you are not alone. Matthew 6:9-15 Our Lord’s prayer, as well as many other verses, tell us that we must forgive others.

But the person that wrote that verse could not possibly know the pain that you’ve suffered. No one could be expected to forgive what you’ve endured. The thought makes you mad. Maybe?

Yes, I know that feeling very well. I was molested by an uncle at a young age. As horrible as that was, it was nothing—easy peasy—compared to the worst of my pain. What if someone hurt your child? That is the anger (the hate) that I have felt.

When my daughter was 14, I learned that my biological father sexually assaulted her. For 30 something years, I believed my daddy was a good man, and he was there to help protect my children. Wrong!

He betrayed that trust. He hurt my baby, and I was too blind to prevent it. That, my friends, is unforgivable. It must be.

How could a person ever forgive something like that? I knew that I could not. Maybe, I didn’t even want to try. But doesn’t the Bible tell that we must forgive to be forgiven? If I refuse, am I sinning against God? My preacher has told me that sin is anything that separates us from God. Unforgiveness fits this to a T. I don’t want to be separated from God. Do you?

Okay, so maybe I kinda want to forgive for my sake. But wanting to and being able to are totally different things.

I prayed and prayed. I told God that I could not forgive this.

I always assumed forgiving meant forgetting, justifying, forgoing punishment, or inviting your tormentor over for tea and cookies. Wrong. After years of praying, God led me to Matthew 18:6 The verse about better to have a millstone around their neck and be thrown into the sea. I immediately liked this verse.

God did not want me to take matters into my own hands, but He told me that it was okay to be angry. God gets angry. He forgives. But He also punishes sin. I prayed. Have you prayed and wondered if you’d ever get an answer? Well, I got my answer. God knew that I could not forgive.

“This is a sin against me,” He said. “This is not for you to forgive. I relieve you.”

Jeremiah 32:17… but nothing is too hard for thee.

We as humans, don’t have the ability to forgive some atrocities. But we can give our willingness to forgive over to God. We don’t have to let unforgiveness separate us from Him. I broke down crying in relief. I no longer feel the hate. We can’t do it alone, but even the impossible (the unforgivable) is made by possible through Jesus.

Don’t allow unforgiveness to hurt you or separate you from Christ. Tell Him how angry you are and why. He will listen. He can relieve you as He relieved me of my unbearable burden. Why are you still reading this? Stop now, and pray.

~Beth Johanson

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