There Must Be Another Way
Updated: Feb 26
Have you ever been deeply hurt by someone, or even a group of people, whom you have never forgiven? Are you suffering? Are your wounds still painful? Even though you knew it was the right thing to do, were you unable to forgive? What do you think it means to forgive?
If so, perhaps Sarah’s story will help you.
When Sarah entered my office, she was wearing a dark green dress. Her black hair swept to one side. She gave me a severe warning as she sat down. Her hands gripped her chair as she leaned forward with intensity. Her brown eyes were underlined by dark circles. Sarah seemed filled with anger and fear as she exclaimed, “I’ve been told by many counselors that I must forgive my father, but I never will! I’m sick and tired of feeling like I do. I need help, but I’m warning you! If you even mention forgiveness to me, I’m walking out of here right now! I have been told that by counselors. I have heard that over and over and I won’t listen to it again! “
Sarah suddenly slumped back into her chair. She covered her eyes as tears began to flow.
I thought, “If emotions bled, I would call 911.” I knew that I must tread carefully, listen well and give credibility to her pain. When I asked her what had happened to cause such suffering, words almost exploded out of her as she began her story.
Sarah stood and began to pace.” My father molested me from the time I was five years old until I was sixteen! I told my mother, but she would not listen. I told my teacher, but she did not believe me. I was desperate by that time, so I went to my pastor. He scolded me for even saying such things, because my father was a very successful businessman and a member of our church. I finally realized that nobody was going to help me, so I ran away. I am 45 years old now. My life has been filled with nothing but pain. Everything bad that has happened to me is his fault.”
She paused to get her breath and finally said, “People tell me I must forgive him, but I can’t…and I won’t! He deserves to burn in hell. I hate him. All those years, I wanted to kill him, but I was too afraid. Now I just want to kill myself, but I’m too afraid to do that.”
Have you ever been wounded so deeply that you felt like Sarah? What do you believe it means to forgive? Does it seem unfair?
WHAT DID SARAH BELIEVE?
When she told me what she had been taught about forgiveness, I could easily see why she was so resistant. I could easily see why she felt justified in refusing to forgive her father.
LIES ABOUT FORGIVENESS
1-She should give him absolution. She should not expose him by demanding accountability and punishment.
2-She should just minimize his motives and actions. She should believe that he did not realize that he was harming her.
3-She should take the blame for what he did, believing that she had invited the molestation.
4-She had been told that she should just ‘get over it and move on.’
HOW COULD SARAH GET JUSTICE AND RELEASE FROM WHAT HER FATHER HAD DONE TO HER? I WAS SILENTLY PRAYING AND ASKING GOD THE SAME QUESTIONS:
Suddenly two of God’s promises from the Bible came to me:
Romans 12:1-Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
and Hebrews 10:30-For we know Him who said, Vengeance is Mine—retribution and the meting out of full justice rests with Me-I will exact the compensation, says the Lord. The Lord will judge and determine and solve and settle the cause and the cases of His people.
I shared God’s promises with Sarah.
A plan came to my mind. I followed the inspiration that had come to me. I asked, “This next week, would you write down all the punishments that you believe your father deserves? Don’t censor yourself. Will you write out a sentence of punishment for what you believe he deserves? Bring it back with you next week and I will pray with you that God will get justice for you.
Sarah’s face lit up at the prospect. I said, “If you think your father deserves to die in prison, write that in the sentence. If you believe he deserves to be molested there, add that to your list. If you think he deserves to be publicly exposed, his reputation destroyed, let’s ask for that. If you believe he deserves to be castrated, to become sick and die, add that to your sentence. Prepare your case and next week, we will take your case before God Who promised to get vengeance for you. God promises to make your father pay for all that he did to you! Delighted, Sarah left to find the relief that she needed and deserved. She was eager to get justice.
The next week, Sarah came to my office with her list in her hand. She slowly released the written sentence of her father to me. Then she hesitated.
As Sarah was still, I said, “I think your case is accurate and I am ready to pray for God to punish your father for all that he did to you. Let’s get justice now.”
Then, Sarah’s response surprised me. She said, “I know my father deserves to be punished for all the harm her has done. But, as I read my list, it became scary to think that I could just ask God to do all those things to pay him back, even though he does deserve it all. I could just imagine my seeing it all begin and end in my father’s death in hell. That is more power than I can imagine. It’s scary.”
At that point, I asked Sarah, “Well, if you don’t to do it, someone needs to get justice for you. You deserve it! You need peace of mind.”
Sarah signed and replied” Well, it too big for me. God knows what my father did. I’m going to let Him bring judgment and punishment because He promised that He will. It’s just too much. I know He will, and I don’t even want to think about it anymore. I want to live a life without being twisted and sick by what my father or anybody did to me.
Together, we prayed for Sarah to be able to trust God to be her advocate and to perform justice on her behalf. We asked Him to show her the next step in her life of freedom. She knew that her pain had been seen and that God would punish her father. Sarah left her list of punishment with me.
Her final remarks: I don’t want my life controlled by what anyone did to me. I want to trust that God will bring justice so that I don’t have to give any more attention to the wrongs done. I want to live without that heavy burden of bitterness. I leave my list in God’s hands and I don’t want bitterness to rob me of the blessings God has for me from now on. I am ready to live forward and I believe God will make a new path for me.
Are you still suffering from what someone did to you!
Do you still carry anger, fear and bitterness? God has prepared a way of release for those who have been so deeply harmed to be given satisfaction and the justice whey deserve. He has provided a way out of the fear and anger that had plagued many lives.
God will deal with those who have harmed us. We can begin to live the life God has planned for us and not be bound to the person who harmed us but led forward by God Who loves us.
Lynda D. Elliott 2023