Anne and Tonya were best friends and roommates in college. Something drastic happened and the relationship was severed. Bitterness grew year after year. It was so bad that Tanya wasn’t even present when Anne got married. Finally, they both opened their hearts to at least being present at the same function among mutual friends. At that time, they talked and opened their hearts to the idea of forgiveness. From there, God intervened and grew not only their relationship with each other but their relationships with Him. Note, harboring bitterness only hurts you. It never hurts the other person. So when Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven, He had good reason for saying it (Matthew18:22). True forgiveness is always for our own good, and a cornerstone to restoration. Besides, when we have un-forgiveness in our hearts, we sin.
With God’s help, Anne and Tanya’s relationship was mended and became far better than it had been in the past. It was timely. Anne’s marriage was falling apart. She and her husband separated. Who do you think loved on Anne, even welcomed her and gave her a place to live? Tanya did! Anne lived with Tanya, not for a few days or weeks. She lived with her for a whole year and through some of the most difficult and challenging times of her life.
Through Christian counseling and surrounding herself with people who could give her support and Godly wisdom, Anne again was able to crack open the door of her heart to the idea of forgiveness, but this time toward her husband. He had certainly messed up, but she knew she hadn’t exactly been perfect. With that little opening, God was able to penetrate her heart and bring about healing. Over time He mended the hurt and brought total restoration to her marriage. She and her husband placed God at the center of their marriage and it flourished to be even greater than it had ever been.
The Israelites turned their backs on God by worshipping idols, giving in to sexual immorality and all kinds of sin. God’s heart was broken, but what He did in response was remarkable. He told them there would be consequences for their sin. However, He reminded them if they would just turn away from their sins and repent, He would forgive them completely. He told them He would restore, heal, and make their desolate places flourish. He would give them back the land that had been taken from them, and then some. He promised to make them better than new, if they would just trust Him. Wow! The Old Testament is filled with stories of God’s amazing patience and love for His people! God even promised the prophets of old that He would soon send the One, the Messiah, who would set everything right.
If we look in the New Testament at the life of Jesus (God’s promised Messiah), He not only set things straight while He walked the earth, but when He died on the cross He made a way for forgiveness for all sin. Through Him things were put right between us and our heavenly Father once and for all! Jesus forgave prostitutes and women living in adultery. He healed crippled women and bleeding women. He raised people from death to life, then overcame death on the cross Himself. Now that’s love…that the Son would die for us, but also that the Father would give up His only Son!
Are there desolate places in your life that need restoring? God can make them flourish and blossom again. You may think that friendship can’t be mended, or that marriage is too far gone. Trust God with just an inch in the door of your heart. Give Him room to get in and miraculously change your heart and that relationship. Or maybe you avoid closeness to God because you’re ashamed of decisions you’ve made in the past. You just can’t seem to let go. You can’t forgive yourself, so you think God couldn’t possibly forgive you either. Well try Him. He just wants you to trust Him with it. Surrender! Open the door of your heart and give Him your physical, spiritual, and emotional diseases. He wants it all… your finances, your brokenness, even your relationships. He is the ultimate Restorer. When we’re restored and refreshed, we can be more effective in helping restore and refresh others!
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort toIsrael’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the LORD. “And I will heal them.” Isaiah 57:18-19
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:11-12
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’ Jeremiah 33:6-9
He (Jesus) said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark5:34