The Things We Carry
You will be mistreated. That is a simple fact of life. “It is impossible,” Jesus said, “that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1 NKJV). So it’s not a question of if, but when. And when you are wronged, you will be presented with a critical choice. You can either choose to hold on to the wrongs committed against you and live in unforgiveness, or you can embrace God’s ways and watch His redemption unfold. That choice is ultimately yours and yours alone—yet it has massive ramifications for your ability to walk out God’s purpose for your life.
No matter what has happened to you, know this: absolutely no man, woman, child, or devil can ever get you out of the will of God. No one, that is, except for you. The way you respond when you are mistreated has the potential to knock you off course—but it can also position you to step into your God-given destiny! If you choose to hold on to bitterness and offense, you will end up carrying burdens you were never meant to bear, and it will become a hindrance to you as you pursue God’s call on your life.
Consider the life of Joseph. God gave Joseph a vivid dream of his future, but shortly afterward, everything began to go awry. His brothers, jealous of the promise on his life, conspired against him, throwing him into a pit and leaving him for dead. When they decided not to kill him, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Then while serving as a slave with excellence, he was falsely accused of wrongdoing, landing him in prison unjustly. Finally, just when it looked like he might be making a breakthrough, he was forgotten by the cup-bearer whose dream he interpreted.
This story unfolds over just a few short chapters in Genesis, but let’s not forget it accounts for years of Joseph’s life. Throughout this time, Joseph had more than sufficient opportunity to hold onto offense toward those who had wronged him so greatly. Instead, he chose to keep his heart tender before the Lord, choosing to extend forgiveness where it wasn’t deserved.
Joseph refused to return evil for evil. Rather, by God’s grace, he extended good toward those who had hated him and treated him wrongly. He embraced God’s ways (Matthew 5:44) above his own. In turn, God used all of the wrongs committed against him to position him for his purpose.
What about you? Ask God to search your own heart—are you carrying offense and holding people’s grievances against them? Are you allowing your present to be defined by the wrongs of the past? Or are you releasing those who have hurt you, extending forgiveness, and trusting God to take what was meant for evil and rework it for good?
The truth is, until you learn to forgive those who have hurt you and treated you wrongly, you will always be a prisoner of your pain and your past. But forgiveness will lift a weight off your shoulders that you were never meant to carry. Lewis Smedes put it so well: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Wherever you find yourself, don’t allow the burden of past hurts to weigh you down any longer. It’s not worth it to let wounds and offenses derail you from God’s purpose for your life. You may not have had any choice in what happened to you—Joseph certainly didn’t—but you have the freedom to respond with Christlikeness, forgiving freely as you’ve been freely forgiven by God. You have the freedom to stop holding the wrongs of others against them and instead, entrust them to God, who judges justly. When you lay down the offenses you were never meant to carry, you’ll find yourself back on course, free to run unhindered toward God’s dream for your life.
Written by John Bevere. Visit John’s blog at http://messengerinternational.org/blog.
Follow John Bevere on Twitter @JohnBevere