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Mercy and Grace!

by Rose Newman

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Title page painting

Forgiven”

Copyright © by Thomas Blackshear II

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Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Rose Newman

All Rights Reserved

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Mercy and Grace!

Rose Newman



Painting Forgiven”

Copyright © by Thomas Blackshear II




Table of Contents

Introduction

Good Intentions Turned Sour

Hurt So Much!

Mercy and Grace

At What Cost?

Ultimate Forgiveness

Introduction

I have found that when someone innocently causes another person to be hurt, an offer of remorse and reconciliation often corrects it. However, what if the person has been hurt so badly that forgiveness is too hard for such a simple remedy?

Depending on the severity of the offense, healing could take a very long time and even then, we may try to forgive, but often, we are unable to forget.

Each circumstance is different and of course produces a different set of consequences. However, I have found that when I try to apply some Mercy and Grace of forgiveness to the experience, it begins a healing process that eventually gives me freedom to carry on with life and even reconciliation can become a reality.

Perhaps while reading instances of emotional and physical pain suffered in my life, some of them may become a means of help and healing for you.

Good Intentions Turned Sour

I remember being so utterly devastated one day when my “always wanting to help” had backfired on me.

Long before the days of “texting”, or “e-mails”, I had written a letter; personally addressed to a very dear friend of mine with a little encouragement message that I thought would help her to cope with a current situation. A few days earlier, she had secretly conveyed a problem she was experiencing with a family member. The letter was my way of giving some kind, loving “help”. However, somehow, the very one who was unintentionally causing the problem had opened the letter before she saw it. I soon found out that instead of helping her, I had made it so much worse. What I had intended as merely a friendly suggestion was received as meddling criticism. A very serious altercation resulted between us. She phoned me, very angrily saying that I had ruined her life and she would not be talking to me again for a very long time, if ever. She told me that she would not be answering any of my phone calls from now on. She then hung up on me. I just sat there; totally devastated. What had I done!

I frantically wanted to let her know how so very sorry I was and that I never realized this could ever possibly happen. In my efforts to try helping her, I had made it all terribly worse instead. I had such a hard time coping with what I had done. I felt so awful. Sometimes I still have trouble forgiving myself for what I had done. It was so hard not to be able to just pick up the phone and talk to her. I wanted to run to her house, give her a big hug, and cry the tears with her. She was hurting so badly and it was my fault.

During the days and weeks ahead, I cried so many tears of my own. I had bought and mailed a “sorry” card to her immediately, but never heard a word. I tried to mail another one a few weeks later, but it came back unopened and marked “return to sender”. We had been such good friends for many years and I couldn’t bear to think that I had caused her so much pain. How could I “fix” it and tell her I only meant to help her and it was definitely not my intention to cause hurt to anyone? How could I let her know how much this was hurting me too? I sent a few more cards weeks after that but all returned or totally ignored. Was I really expected to just forget this?

As time went by, this situation was still eating away at me. I had to do something about it. I decided that I would try to find out if she lived at the same place and I would make a surprise visit “with my heart in my hand” so to speak. I prayed for God to give me peace about this and not to be afraid of rejection. I would personally go to say how sorry I was and try to explain.

A few weeks later, after I had found out where she was living, I woke up one morning with a familiar little tune about peace singing in my head. I knew this was God helping me, so this was the day to go. I would not be fearful. I had to do this. I told myself that I least I will have tried. As my car rounded the corner, I could see the front door. Even though I felt my heart pounding, I knew God would be with me and I was just plain determined. I had to say sorry and try to put it right. I pulled into the driveway and walked to the door. I felt so peaceful. I really wasn’t afraid. I was carrying a small bag with copies of some old photographs we had taken on our last outing together. They were from my own camera so she had never seen them. When she answered the door and saw who it was, she looked shocked for a few seconds as I handed her the photographs in a gesture of friendship. To my total surprise, she took the bag and asked me in. Before I could say anything, she had put the photos on a table in the living room, invited me to sit on the couch, and immediately, excitedly started to explain about a new small business venture she was trying. It was as though she didn’t even remember what I had done to her, or how long it had been. Then when she invited me to stay for lunch, I couldn’t believe this was happening.

As I ate the soup with her, I was so overwhelmed with joy at this unexpected reaction that tears welled up in my eyes. Was it possible this awful ordeal was finally over? I just melted and continued trying to eat the soup through the tears. She looked at me and smiled. It seemed that somehow she had forgiven me, even though not really forgotten I’m sure. Perhaps my mailed attempts to say sorry had not been totally ignored after all but she never mentioned it.

When it was time for me to leave, we hugged and said we would keep in touch. I was just flabbergasted as I got back in the car. I was really expecting that she would reject me and close the door in my face when she saw me. Now we were back as friends again. My heart felt so relieved. She had forgiven me. I knew that God’s love had healed the hurt and pain for both of us. His timing and plans are perfect, even though we seldom see it that way when going through a rough spot in our lives. Then later, as we look back, we realize that He had worked it all out for our good, always.

I learned a few valuable lessons out of this for me. Perhaps the most obvious was not to be so free with unsolicited advice, and don’t try to fix something that only God can do. Many a time, I think He had to fix the mess I made, before He could do what He already knew was necessary.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)

Hurt So Much!

Many years ago, I found out how devastating it can be when we are severely hurt. It was something that should never have happened. An incident that just threw me off balance creating so much anger and pain deep down inside.

A person, who should never have been allowed or able to do it, had hurt someone special to me. It was not possible for me to change anything, it had already happened. I felt so justified to lash out. I was ready to accuse and blame with no thought of forgiveness whatsoever. I had the right to feel the way I did about such an awful thing. I had to deal with the fact that there was nothing I could do to make it go away, or to fix it for the person so special to me. I was shocked and devastated at the same time. Actually, I was furious. I knew that an apology was never going to happen nor could it do any good. Nothing could put it right.

As time went on, the hurt was eating away at me and my anger towards the offender was growing instead of becoming less. My husband, close friends and family members insisted that they were noticing the effect this was having on me. I knew it too, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried hard to put it in the back of my mind only to find it was impossible. It was hurting me so much more than I had ever imagined. Day and night, I thought of nothing else, I talked of nothing else, and I had allowed it to take over everything I tried to do. This was the consequence of a bad decision made by someone else.

Many a time when something like this happens, the victim will blame God and even be mad at Him for letting it happen but I knew this wasn’t the case here. Many years earlier, I had committed my life to God. I had already experienced for some time that He was real, and loved me very much. Now, I could sense that my frustration and stubbornness was hindering that loving relationship with God. It almost felt like I was trying to hide from Him, knowing that He would want me to forgive, but how could I do that? In this instance, it seemed impossible.

Every Sunday I would go to church with my family, knowing that I could never look at the beautifully lighted image of the empty cross portraying our risen Saviour. It was very hard to miss seeing it. It was right on the front wall facing us all. I walked in trying not to look at it and sat as far away as possible.

Quite a few weeks even months passed by. It seemed that every week the sermon message was speaking directly to me but I was being stubborn, still hurting so much, and still very angry inside. Eventually however, one of the messages really got to me. I could not control the tears streaming down my face. I knew what I had to do. When it was over, I asked if I could set up a meeting with the Pastor next week. I intended to hear his advice, but I was really only putting off what I knew he would tell me. I cancelled the appointment.

When I got home, I realized how badly this was affecting my health. I got down on my knees and started to pray, just quietly, pondering my predicament. It didn’t take long before the tears started again. I knew He was telling me that somehow, I had to forgive. It was the only way to conquer this awful anguish. I prayed that God would give me the strength and courage to do this.

I never did go to the offender and demand an apology and even though I thought I was willing, no forgiveness was happening in my heart. However, it wasn’t long before I told myself that I was finally going to have to deal with it. I could not let it take over my life any longer. I asked God to forgive me for being so stubborn and for allowing it to fester in my life this way. I realized that I just had to hand over the whole situation to Him and ask Him to do it for me.

As time went by, I noticed that it was becoming less and less the main topic of my thoughts. I even found that peace was finally returning to my once sleepless nights. I just couldn’t turn back the clock to fix this awful offense. I could do nothing else. It was too late. Of course, I knew I would never forget, but I vowed I was not going to live in the past any longer. In time, the forgiveness did somehow creep in and I was able to look at that lighted cross again and feel a sense of diminished pain. I knew this was all God’s doing, not mine. It was His Mercy and Grace to me. I couldn’t thank Him enough. It was so good not to feel that separation from God any longer. It’s hard to describe, but that had been such an awful feeling inside me.

I am surprised that I can actually write this now without feeling the pain, but I will never forget my feeling of separation from God. It seems like such a long time ago now, but only God can forget. I just know that He gave me the strength and courage to do what He knew was the only thing to give me peace and set me free. Many people don’t realize that forgiveness is not always something we do for other people. When we choose to forgive, we are actually doing it for ourselves. The mercy and grace intentionally given, heals the pain in our hearts so we can get well, and the freedom of it allows us to move on.

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.” Psalms 71:20 (ESV

Mercy and Grace

A year or so later, a dear neighbour of mine was over for coffee. We often talked about our troubles and triumphs of daily living. Being very sympathetic about my past problems, she started to talk about how I was coping now. It didn’t take too long before she realized that I was so much better, both mentally and physically. This really sparked her interest because she too had been struggling through a very similar ordeal. Being curious about why and how I was doing so well, she asked how I did it.

I proceeded to tell her that forgiving was my answer. I had learned that “forgiveness is unlocking a door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner”. Max Lucado.

I could see the frown on her face. We both knew she felt that forgiveness was almost impossible. I smiled gently and told her that I knew exactly how she felt. Been there, done that! She could see on my face and sense the peace I had gained. She wanted to know what had happened. I didn’t know if she had a relationship with God or had read her Bible or prayed much, but I felt I had to tell her how I had been set free from the pain and awful power that my situation had been holding over me. It didn’t matter to me if she felt I was just pushing my opinions on her, she was my friend, and she knew I cared about her deeply.

It took a little while explaining it all, about how I had always known in my heart that the only way to be set free from all this anguish was to follow the examples of Jesus. I knew somehow, I had to decide to forgive the one who had hurt me so much. I had to hand the hurt over to Him and let Him do it for me. Her face was still questioning her ability to do that. I could tell she was really struggling. I found out from her that she did believe in God, but she didn’t pray much or read the Bible. She knew we were supposed to forgive people but this was such a big one. The consequences were devastating for her. She looked at me with her sad eyes. I so much wanted to help her. I knew God could help her too, but before she would see any results, she needed to believe for herself and trust Him as I had done.

Finally, after a lot of searching, she became convinced in her own mind that probably the only way to be free of the pain, as I experienced, was to follow the same direction I had taken. Even though we both knew this was not going to be easy, she said she was willing to try trusting God to help her. I gave her a big hug and we cried together. Even then, I’m sure she already felt some release from the pain. I prayed with her and we asked God to forgive her, as He did for me, for being so stubborn in holding back the forgiveness of her offender. God knew how much she was hurting, why, and what needed to be done to heal. Handing it all over to Him was the first step to the freedom.

I knew she needed a close relationship with God to get through this. She promised to read the Bible, and pray often, while the healing process was going on. She needed to free from the power that she had been allowing her situation to hold over her. So again, we prayed for this to happen and I could see the peace already on her face. It felt so good to be able to help her find the wonderful love of God. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy trying to follow the example of Jesus to forgive, but with God, all things are possible. We hugged again and I made her a fresh cup of coffee.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 (ESV)

Both of us realized that it is not always necessary to actually go to the offender and offer forgiveness. Once I tried to say sorry but had the door shut in my face saying that it was too late. Not many will actually even seek forgiveness for the pain they have caused. It can be embarrassing for them to admit to the offense. Sometimes they can be unaware that their offence has had such an impact on us. Often, hurt people tend to hurt others unknowingly. Somehow, the cycle needs to end, but it can be very difficult and often takes a long time.

I have found that sometimes, as long as we are ready to give the offence over to God and let Him deal with it, the answer is actually just a determination in our own hearts that we will not allow the memory of this pain to hurt us any longer. This type of forgiveness involves both Mercy and Grace on our part; a very special kind of love and humility that only God can give us. Mercy is actually not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. As my friend was ready to leave, it was enough for both of us to know and feel the heartfelt willingness to forgive, to let it go, and let God be our advocate. I was happy that she left feeling so much better.

We met often after that. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy process for her but I knew she was not going through it alone now. A few times after that, she would call or come over and ask me to pray with her as the days went by. It was so wonderful to see that God was working it all out for her too, just as He had for me.

Please dear one, if you are reading this, and you too are going through such a very painful ordeal, seek out God, ask Him to help you do this. Hand it over to Him and let Him do it for you. You too can have His wonderful love to carry you through to a place in your life where you can be free from the power held over you by your offender. Such peace in your heart will put a true smile on your face. You will be free from the hurt and pain at last.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. 2Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

At What Cost?

Another time I found out that an extended family member was actually mad at God for not healing a loved one who died seemingly too young. The hurt ran so deep and seemed so justified. It was very intense, for so long, that it totally took over the life of the grieving one: all so very sad. I’m sure he felt that he could never be relieved this kind of pain.

I know there was many a time when the pain seemed like that to me too, even when I was not mad at God for it. What this poor man didn’t realize was that there actually was hope for his healing, even then. Being mad at God means that the grieving one believes that He is real and has the power to give or take a life, but until this reality is accepted, the grief remains. I can’t even think of how anyone could get through such an ordeal, or any similar situation, without having God to help. He only ever wants what is best for us.

However, being angry with someone that powerful is not a very good idea. It would be a little strange for Him to come to you and tell you He is sorry. How can anyone accuse or judge Almighty God for anything. He is the sovereign God of the universe. He has our lives planed for us from our birth. He knows when our time on earth is over, no matter how old we are.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

In the past, when I have tried to forgive someone who has hurt me, it sometimes took sheer determination, courage, strength, and humility. These things are very difficult to do, or even think about, when the hurt is so bad, but I have found that I can be free from the pain and bondage the hurt has caused in my life by giving it all over to God and let Him be my advocate. I didn’t know it at the time, but this became such a source of healing for me, whether the offender even knew or accepted it. That power to keep hurting me was been broken. I was free of it because I was obedient to God and made the decision to forgive. He did the rest for me.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NLT)

Thankfully, we will never have to do what God did to forgive us. That plan of forgiveness took so much more than we can imagine. Jesus knew what it would involve, yet He too was obedient to God. Because He loved us so much, He was willing to take the consequences, even though He knew it would cost Him his life.

In order to give us the chance of forgiveness, the Lord Jesus, suffered so much pain from cruel, excruciating torture. Crucifixion was the most terrible death imaginable, yet Jesus even asked God to forgive those who hammered the nails into His hands and feet. He said they didn’t know what they were doing. He knew what was happening, that it was necessary, and the only way, but that kind of love is beyond our comprehension. Jesus was carrying the payment required for the sins of the whole world that day, yet He was the only perfect man who ever lived! God knew it was the only way to provide us with the choice of forgiveness and for our relationship with Him to be reconciled. So who is to blame this time?

I learned that it is impossible for any of us to live up to the standards of a Holy God. We have all sinned in some way or another. There is no such thing as a little or big sin. None of us can ever say that we haven’t told at least one lie in our lifetime, so no one can ever get to heaven by being “good enough” even though many try. Accepting the great love of Jesus through faith is the only way.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

Ultimate Forgiveness

The old Jewish law from the days of Moses required the blood of a spotless, perfect lamb to become the payment required for committed sin. Jesus, the Son of God, was born to be the final sacrificial Lamb for the sins of all mankind.

He was the only perfect man who ever lived so only His blood could pay for the sin of all the rest of us. Jesus knew this from the beginning and He willingly obeyed His Father’s will and died for us. Below is a poem I wrote a long time ago about that special Easter weekend.

His Love

Have you ever stopped to wonder

Why they called Good Friday "good"?

It seems to me that sad, black day

Could be misunderstood.

How His Father must have anguished

As He watched His dear Son die,

And not for crimes that He had done,

But for sinners such as I.

What kind of love could be so great,

To suffer willingly

The penalty for someone else;

His blood was shed for me.

But then when Sunday came around

And death had lost its sting,

That glorious morn' was victory

For Jesus Christ, the King!

Now He's alive for evermore.

The Father's will was done.

Forgiveness, pardon, full and free,

By trusting in God's Son.

It was a "good" Good Friday

For the thief, who died there too,

He took his place in Heaven

When that long, dark day was through.

I am grateful to my Saviour

My life to Him I owe.

I'll serve and love Him always

Because He loved me so.

All he asks is that we accept His sacrifice; to personally thank Him and ask Him to forgive us for all the wrongs we have committed against the holiness of a perfect God.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36 (NIV)

Now is our chance to begin a love relationship with Him that will last forever. God is spirit and we have a spirit inside us too. It lives forever, even after our bodies die and rot in the grave. When we thank Jesus for being our Saviour, forgiveness is ours through His shed blood when He became that final Perfect Lamb. His spirit will then come to live in us and we become a Child of God. As long as our spirits belong to God before we die, we are assured of eternal life with Him.

However, if there has been no forgiveness of sin, our spirits are banished with Satan instead, separated from God forever. We all have the free will to choose where our spirit goes, but we have to make the choice personally before it’s too late. We all have to meet Him face to face one day, alone, whether forgiven or not. There will be no one else beside us to blame for what we have, or have not done, but when as Children of God we stand before Him on our day of judgement, Jesus will have already paid the penalty required for our sin, and we can stand before God as innocent and pure.

Just think of it, when Jesus died on that cross, it wasn’t the nails in His hands, and feet that held Him there. It was His love for God His Father, and most of all, His amazing love for us. Please look just once more at the painting by Thomas Blackshear II. See the pain and agony on the man’s face, still holding the hammer and nails. Using those tools was his job. Did he realize that one of those three “criminals” was actually the Son of God?

See how firmly Jesus is cradling him in His strong arms. Full of compassion, He knows this poor man’s heart. See and feel the power of forgiveness just radiating from Him. Now that’s real Love!

FORGIVEN”

All because of the wonderful

Love, Mercy and Grace of God!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. John 3:16 (NIV)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found.

Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

John Newton 1779


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