Extending Forgiveness

This morning, one of my small dogs needed a little TLC. As she cuddled next to me and I stroked her fur, I reflected that over the last year, a particularly hard one, God had often offered me TLC too. Some years ago, a trial by fire presented itself when I had been asked to step in and run two affiliated companies whose owners had passed away. As I followed God’s direction for my life, I accepted the offer, and several financial promises were made to me. The two companies were slated to be sold, and I was charged with the task of getting them in good order. The job was exceedingly challenging, a challenge that pretty much took over my life for the next seven years without a single vacation. When a buyer was found, I was dismissed prior to the sell, and all financial promises were broken. I felt devastated. I had been overwhelmingly hurt by people whom I had trusted. During those first few months, I would at times crumple to my knees, crying and asking, “Why? I believed I was doing what you desired me to do. Why did you let this happen to me?”

In truth, I knew why and had for some time. God had been using me to deliver a message—a message to the staff, to the powers that be, and to one individual in particular. I just had not realized that within that message was also one for me: Nothing is wasted (John 6:12, NIV). Prior to the dismissal, the small portion of my time I had assigned to God was not enough. If I was to grow spiritually, those cursory spiritual obligations would not serve me or the God who loves and guides me.

Included in this message for me was a lesson in forgiveness. Betrayal, I discovered, was not easy to forgive, and although it took a long time to do so, with God’s help I did. God’s next direction was even more difficult: “Tell them.”

I pleaded, “Please don’t make me do this. Can’t I just forgive them from afar and let it go?” Over the next week, I was bombarded by the topic of forgiveness in devotionals, Scripture, and even television evangelists. Finally, I surrendered: “Okay, God. While I am dense, I do get the message. I promise to do this in the next month but will need your help with whatever it is you wish me to say, because I simply don’t know.”

As with other life-challenging moments, I had to go through this trial by fire, first by accepting the request to serve as COO, through my seven years of labor, and in the dismissal before the promises made to me were kept. Finally, I endured their betrayal, God’s instruction to forgive, and the repeated tests to my sincerity in that forgiveness as I wrote and sent the necessary emails.

The molten vessel that emerged from those fires is stronger and somewhat better than before—not golden, but hopefully more useful. If we grow from life’s trials and tribulations is up to us. God is there to help, and all that is required is to whisper, “Jesus,” and answer him, “Yes.”

Sandra Jones Cropsey is a playwright, novelist, and children’s writer. Her novel Who’s There was a finalist for the 2008 “Georgia Book of the Year” and was produced as a play in 2010 by the Main Street Players. In 2009, she received a grant to produce her children’s story, Tinker’s Christmas, as a radio drama. Presently, she is working on scheduling a reading of her new play, “All My Trials, Lord.”

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