Saturday, December 19
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 102:12
Without a counselor nearby to ask, I “googled” this question: “Why is it so hard to believe I’ve been forgiven?” Six of the eight sites I found emphasized why it’s so hard to forgive others. Only two addressed the difficulty of believing that I’ve been forgiven.
Nothing steals Advent joy like living under a cloud of perceived unforgiveness. When I refuse to believe that I’ve been forgiven—or when I don’t feel forgiven—it’s good to examine the “why.” Since it’s God’s good will for me to walk in freedom, the dark doubt my head and heart struggles with can’t be from him. If the message isn’t from God, it’s likely from the Enemy who is called the accuser (Revelation 12:10), the one who wants me to stay mired in shame, unable to intimately walk with God. God convicts of sin for the sake of leading us to freedom. Our enemy taunts us for the purpose of keeping us in bondage.*
After acknowledging the author of the defeating message, remembering the cross is crucial. Dr. Slattery goes on: He’s (Satan’s) happy for you to wear one (a cross) around your neck or hang one in your house as long as you don’t remember that Jesus’ death on the cross forever canceled sin!
In Screwtape Letters, C.S.. Lewis brilliantly reveals Satan’s ruse by letting us in on Screwtape’s reasoning: When they (Christians) say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired at the moment.
But the Enemy doesn’t give up easily. I’ve discovered that when he persists with his Policy of Shame (and incidentally, he seem to never give up this effort), it’s time to actively worship the One who grants forgiveness. Sing praise, meditate on Psalm 145 until David’s words are your own. Walk in Advent freedom!
*Dr. Juli Slattery, Clinical Psychologist