Believer's Arena 11-18-21: Balancing 'unforgiveness' with serious prayer

Gene Ruth Brumback

Years ago, in my desire for a closer walk with God, I started praying questions. When I prayed from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search my heart, God, and show me anything that is hindering my relationship with you, anything that is offensive to you,” God immediately showed me I was carrying minor resentment and unforgiveness toward two people. (Incidentally, one of them is dead.) I immediately prayed a forgiveness prayer (1 John 1:9).

Recently, I felt unforgiveness in my heart and searched again. The one I constantly pray to forgive was not the one this time. This time it was my husband. There is a family member with whom I’ve been ordered by God to not have a relationship. It is, and has been for a long time, a toxic one. This is the one I often pray against resentment. I am blamed by her for all her problems. I often pray for this person. I know she is mentally ill, and I do feel very sorry for her.

My husband wants to have a relationship with her and often comes against me because I won’t. He will make statements to me, “Why don’t you forgive her?” My “I have, but the Lord says a relationship is not good for now,” doesn’t resonate with him. I keep reminding myself of his cognitive decline. He is sometimes obsessed with this relationship and sad most of the time because he can’t really help her. God knows through the years we’ve tried.

I do admire his loyalty and tenacity, but it is hard to live with at times. God has given me grace in my relationship with my husband. However, there are times I must seek God about my frustrations and sometimes unforgiveness toward him. I know in this stage of life he can’t help it. Sometimes I feel I’m dealing with an untrainable 8-year-old. Yep, I remember the good ol' days when all I had to deal with was putting the lid back on the toothpaste.

I need to examine my heart everyday (2 Corinthians 13:5). If I don’t “cleanse” myself often, I will allow roots of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15) to control me and my walk with God will be hindered.

Now, to balance this with caution, sometimes the devil will try to confuse me with feelings of condemnation. Once I have said a forgiveness prayer, forgiving others – and more importantly forgiving myself – I know God accepts my prayer.

When those “feelings” of unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness try to return, I remind myself I’m right with God and I don’t go by my feelings, but by what the Bible says. Feelings are good in their place, but we can’t allow them to control us.

Thank you, God, for your Word and for your faithfulness to help us grow in you.

Gene Ruth Brumback is an ordained minister.

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