As I stood on top of Mount Carmel overlooking the fertile valley below, I couldn’t help but think of Elijah where Israel had started serving Baal and God was upset. Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain for over three years. Looking at that valley, I tried to imagine what it must have looked like after not getting any rain for years. I’m sure it was dry and barren instead of lush and green. The people must have been hungry and desperate. There was no telling how long that dry season was going to last. Eventually, Elijah prayed and the rains returned. The valley became fertile once again as pictured above.
Have you ever gone through a dry spell or a season that seemed like it would never end? Maybe you’re going through it now. When you’re going through it, you get hungry and desperate for God to answer and rescue you. Quite honestly, it can be embarrassing to go through these times. You start to wonder what you did wrong, and eventually begin the blame game. The good news is that these seasons don’t last forever. They may leave permanent reminders in your life, but those reminders should also point to God’s faithfulness in changing your season and carrying you through it.
Song of Songs 2:11 says, “The season has changed, the bondage of your barren winter has ended, and the season of hiding is over and gone” (TPT). I hope that speaks to you the way it did to me. God is working things out for your good even in the barren times. He is calling you out of your hunkered down mentality into a place where you can walk freely. You may carry the scars and effects of this season with you for the rest of your life, but don’t let them carry a root of bitterness. Instead, let God use those dry seasons of your life to provide hope and healing to others who will go through them too. When you leave the bondage behind that comes from those seasons, you’re able to produce more fruit in your life than ever before.
We live in the age of offense where everyone seems to be easily offended by everything. As imperfect people, we are going to offend people and people are going to offend us. In the workplace, in friendships and at church, when you interact with others, you’re given the chance to not see eye to eye with someone. We all have different points of view. We all have different thicknesses of skin. We all have the choice to make room for someone to be human or to hold them to a state of perfection. In this current age, we’re holding imperfect people to a perfect standard when we don’t see eye to eye, and then we crush them when their imperfections show.
In Colossians 3:12, Paul is speaking to the people of God and tells them to clothe themselves in kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness and patience. I like the imagery of clothing yourself with these things. He’s saying, wrap up your imperfections and thin skin with these attributes. These are things that don’t come natural to all of us, but as believers we can adopt these attributes into our lives and learn to incorporate them into who we are. After he gives all of those attributes in one sentence, he makes a special note to add one more to the list. He says, “Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you” (GNT).
Forgiveness is the act of releasing someone from something they’ve done to you that has offended or hurt you. As Christians, we must learn how not to have a chip on our shoulder looking for offenses and to learn how to make room for the faults in others. When we get offended, we need to release it. Unforgiveness truly hurts ourselves more than the other person. It can create a root of bitterness within us and affect every area of our life. It causes us to look for payback and to try to hurt the other person in some way. Forgiveness releases us of that burden and keeps our hearts pure before God. When we quit looking to be offended and when we release those who have offended us, we become more Christ-like.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash