Seventy Times Seven

My former spouse made choices that unfortunately impact the lives of my children to this day. It is because of these choices that we cannot have “normal” experiences. There are huge barriers for us complicating what should be everyday tasks. Things that others can take care of in 30 minutes take my children weeks and sometimes months if the government has to be involved to address the barriers. I have to keep forgiving my former spouse every time one of these incidents arises as the enemy works hard to fill me with resentment. I can now understand when Jesus says to forgive someone “seventy times seven.”

“Then Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven!'”
Matthew 18:21 – 22 NLV

When I first read these verses, I thought, “That is a lot of forgiveness for one person, and why would I be such a ‘welcome mat’ to allow that person to keep sinning against me?” The Lord has since shown me that forgiveness may not be one specific moment in time and then it is done. The enemy will continue to try to bring up what has been done to us to cause us to retreat to places of unforgiveness. We must take those thoughts captive.

Forgiving someone does not mean condoning or agreeing with the behavior. Forgiving means shedding our chains of resentment versus carrying them around when we do not forgive. I need to forgive my former spouse literally every day and sometimes multiple times a day. As a result, I have forgiven him hundreds of times. For clarity, I have taken every step necessary to protect myself and my children from further harm; Jesus does not condone anyone repeatedly hurting anyone.

Credit: Snow

If constantly forgiving those who hurt us is not enough, we have an enemy who knows exactly how to attack us. Recently, I lied because I felt like I had to protect my child from my former spouse. Lies are a sin, and all sin is a statement to God indicating, “I do not trust You to make this work.” In the moment, I thought the lie was the best way to protect my child. After the lie occurred, I confessed it to God and thought about why I lied. One thought was that if my former spouse had not done the things he did, I would not have had to lie. But that thought is, in fact, another lie. It is irrelevant what my former spouse did; God is capable and powerful enough to protect my child from anything. And I did not “have” to lie. None of us “have” to lie. We choose to lie because we think it is easier, better, faster, etc. Perhaps sometimes it is easier to lie, but followers of Jesus are not called to take the easy path.

“Since Christ has suffered in His body, we must be ready to suffer also. Suffering puts an end to sin. You should no longer spend the rest of your life giving in to the sinful desires of the flesh. But do what God wants as long as you live in this world.”
1 Peter 4:1–2 NLV

Following Jesus can result in suffering of all kinds. However, whether it is forgiving someone 490 times or trusting God even when a lie is easier, we are to obey what God commands us to do. While any suffering is limited to our brief time in the earthly realm, our eternal reward for following Jesus is His love. No matter what the enemy or former spouses or other dark influences may try to throw at us, we fight from victory.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Romans 8:35-37 NLT

The Answer to Every Question Is Three Words

Throughout our lives as Christians, we will endure many trials and blessings. Times of blessing are, of course, easy to walk through. The potential hazard during times of blessing is forgetting to thank God. We must recall that He provided all we have, and we should not slip into a sense of self-righteousness or thinking that we provided all we have.

It is during the trials, times of suffering, times of silence, and times of confusion, that we need answers. Depending on what we are walking through, our questions can range from “Why, God?” to “When, God?” to “How, God?”

The enemy will use those times of trial, silence, or confusion to try to get us to doubt God. To doubt His promises, to doubt His past provision, or to doubt that He will once again provide. The enemy knows that when we feel the farthest from God is the exact time that He is the closest and just waiting for us to draw near. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” The enemy will show up in full force when we are going through hard times.

Job and Joseph are just two examples in the Bible of people under attack but standing firm in their faith for God. Sometimes reading those chapters of the Bible does not help me. I feel like I am not a Job – I could not drop to the ground in worship if God were to wipe out all my children in one swoop, like Job did (Job 1:20). I truly do not think I could do that. Perhaps I could get to that place with time, prayer, and help.

However, in my journey, I have realized that there are three words that we need to insert as the answers to our questions for God. So, in those moments when we feel that the examples in the Bible are not encouraging, and God is silent, and the enemy is attacking, what answers do we have to the questions and hurt swirling in our minds?

I offer three answers, each with three words.

  • “It is well.” No matter what happens to us or our loved ones, our souls will spend eternity with Jesus because we believe He is the Son of God. There are many, many awful things we will endure in this life – but ultimately, our destination is eternity. We need to keep our eyes on eternity, and if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart He rose from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Your soul is safe for all eternity, and it is well.
  • “Thy will, Lord.” There are going to be hurtful, hateful, senseless things that happen. On this side of Heaven, we will not always understand why things happen. But we know that He works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We simply cannot understand all that God knows, and it is with this perfect knowledge from generations past and future that He makes the decisions He makes to form His perfect will for us. We will doubt God, we will say this does not make sense, and it will never make sense, and that very well may be true, but we are to “trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (Proverb 3:5). Surrendering to His will is what is best for us, whether we can see that now or not.
  • “God loves me.” There will be times of silence. We will feel far from God, or we will be passionately seeking God daily in prayer without an answer for a decade or more. This does not mean He does not hear our prayers. Psalm 116:2 says, “Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” We may receive no response because the timing is not right, or His answer will be different than we seek. However, in those times, we must never doubt His love for us. He sent His one and only Son to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God is our loving Father (Romans 8:15).

Cling to one or all of these answers when the enemy comes for you. Nothing the enemy says is true, for he is the father of all lies. These answers above are Truth. They are promises in the powerful Word of God.

Only God holds your soul (Matthew 10:28), only God is in control of the plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and only God has loved you enough to die for you (John 3:16).

Credit: JC

God Sends Us “Earthly Angels”

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Credit: JC

I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive house. My biological father left when I was a few weeks old. Sadly, I know there are a lot of people in the same boat – they were raised in families that did not at all represent God’s design of family. We live in a sin-filled world, but God sends us what I call “earthly angels” to help us when our lives are full of hurt.

Humans are not angels; they are separate creations. There are many verses that make it clear humans are not and do not become angels. One example is Psalm 8:4–6: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet” (NIV). However, I use the term “earthly angels” to describe humans, sent by God, who step into our lives to lead us closer to Him.

My uncle became the father figure I needed as I grew up. He was there for me when I was sick and carried me when I could not walk. He drove my mom and I back and forth to many Children’s Hospital therapy appointments for months on end. He was there when my heart was broken; he was there to teach me how a man should treat a lady. He showed me unconditional love when I messed up. He walked me down the aisle the day I got married. I believe God placed my uncle in my life as my “earthly angel” to fill the gaps of not having an earthly father present.

My uncle went to Heaven last night. His health had been declining swiftly over the past few months, so his transition to Heaven was not unexpected. It certainly hurts when you lose someone you love deeply, but I will say there is comfort in knowing you will see the person again in Heaven. When there is faith in Jesus, there is the promise of eternity with Him.

John 3:16 says, “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” (NIV). “Whoever” is a huge, beautiful word. It does not matter WHO you are, WHAT you have done, WHEN you did it, or HOW you did it – you will have eternal life through your belief in Jesus.

My uncle and I shared this belief, so that is how I know I will see him again. We also have the comfort that our loved ones are no longer in pain. There is no pain in Heaven. Our loved ones can dance again and sing again and talk again. They are freed from the chains of hurt, pain, and death that had them in their grip on Earth. Revelation 21:4–6 states, “‘”He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life'” (NIV).

My uncle is with me; I talk to him and look toward Heaven when I think of him. While I am very sad to have lost my “earthly angel”, I know he is freed from pain. I also know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

My uncle’s children are adults, and they are atheists. I pray God will use this pain to save their souls. All they have to do is believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Acts 2:21 says, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (NIV).

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT

We will see our loved ones again; whether we arrive in Heaven or the Lord returns while we are still on Earth, we will see them again! It is healthy to grieve, and we should grieve, but grieve with hope. Brothers and sisters, we will see our loved ones again through Jesus Christ!


Father in Heaven,

We lift up all who have lost their “earthly angels,” those people who change our lives for the better, those people who love us incredibly, those people who lead us to You, those people who help us meet You through their lives.

We thank You for Jesus and the incredible promises of eternity that we have in Him. Lord, please help those of us still on Earth to cling to Your promises when the hurt rushes in. Please remind us we can still talk to our loved ones. They are still with us – just in a different way. Please help us to grieve and to grieve with hope in Jesus.

In the Almighty Name of Jesus we pray.

Amen