The Power of Forgiveness

It was the end of 1999.  I was facing a serious illness and trying with all I had in me to exercise my puny faith.  It wasn’t easy. I had only in the last few years decided I really could trust God.  And here I was, facing cancer and all the craziness that that diagnosis brings. I knew in my spirit that I did not need chemo but the doctors did not agree.  One told me I would die if I didn’t consent and do it quickly.  Another told me I needed to trust her because God had given her the wisdom to know what was best for me in this situation.  But I knew that I knew it was not the best thing for me…or did I?

I had not always made good decisions in my life.  Maybe this was just my mind and not God reassuring me.  Maybe I was just being rebellious or maybe it was fear that led me to think I didn’t need treatment.  I struggled within myself.  Was this God speaking to me or me?  I didn’t know and after a month of intense pressure from doctors and some family, I felt powerless to resist anymore.  I consented and went through treatment.

Not only was the treatment full of complications, but a year and a half post-treatment I was still not recovering.  Finally, a second opinion confirmed what I had known in the beginning.  I had not needed the chemo.  My tumor had been completely encapsulated.  No lymph nodes were positive and it was not hormone driven.  In his opinion, I should not have had chemo and maybe not even radiation.  I came away from that meeting hot with anger.  All the frustration I had endured throughout the last 2 years came rolling over me like searing lava.  My anger burned into hatred and resentment for my doctor.  Unfortunately, it boiled over onto not just her but every other doctor I came into contact with for the next 10 years.

While God, in His mercy has still allowed me to grow in Him and to find freedom and deliverance in many other areas of my life, my health has been all over the place.  Sometimes I would experience a reprieve only to find myself hitting another wall.  It seemed one weird thing after another plagued me.  Confusion reigned.  I would go to the doctor with symptoms and he would run test after test and shake his head.  He couldn’t find the source.  Another doctor diagnosed what he thought was the problem, only to find years later that diagnosis had been wrong.

My frustration with my body and with God over my health grew.  I knew something had to give but I was blind to the true source of the issue.  After years of the same story, different doctor I was tired of the whole thing.  I had finally decided I was done with doctors and would not go anymore.  I tried natural and nutritional remedies.  I researched and found alternatives to anything and everything I had been told by the medical doctors.  But that didn’t work either.  Despite temporary improvements from time to time, things came to a head as I began to experience more serious and mysterious symptoms than before.

As I sought the Lord, He spoke many things to my soul.  I had grown tremendously in my faith over the last 10 years.  I knew I could and should trust God in all things and finally, I humbled myself concerning my health.  When our insurance changed, I knew I had to deal with this differently.  As I reviewed the list of doctors, I prayed, “God, I don’t want to see another doctor and go through this crazy cycle for nothing.  But I know I have to get help.  So, I am going to wait on you.  You send me a referral and I will go to that doctor and submit to what they say.”

Two months later, I had a referral.  Still a little nervous about the whole thing, I called and made an appointment.  Within weeks, I had referrals to all sorts of specialists.  Interestingly, they all wanted to talk about the same thing:  the chemo I had been given 12 years ago.   I had long given up suggesting the chemo was the source of my health issues.  Doctor after doctor in the last 10 years had dismissed that and some even thought I was a hypochondriac.  Now, doctor after doctor, without consulting with one another, was presenting to me the possibility that all my current symptoms could be from damage from the chemo!   It was a bittersweet victory for me.  While I was glad they were finally addressing what I had thought was the original problem all along, that part of my life was a very sore subject.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to go there again.

The pathetic band aid I had applied to this area of my life quickly started unraveling.  As I sought the Lord, day after day, concerning my situation I finally got the point that there was more to this than just the physical.  When I asked what the real source was, the Lord began to reveal all the doors I had opened and the agreements I had made with unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, fear and anxiety during this specific time in my life.  I saw that the effect of all that was spiritual and physical.  I had some serious work to do!

As I let the Spirit lead me through this putrid pile of sin I had accumulated over the last 12 years, I found myself in a raging battle.  The enemy did not want to let go!  But now I was stronger.  I was not about to keep all this junk!  I repented and renounced over and over each time the Spirit brought before me unforgiveness toward a doctor or a sin I had let go unchecked.  A judgmental and critical spirit, resentment, unforgiveness, and bitter roots – they all had to go!  According to 1 John 1:9, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  I renounced the doors I had opened to the enemy through my disobedience and asked the Holy Spirit to now reign in me where sin had previously been allowed to rage.  Lastly, I prayed blessing on those I felt had hurt me and this time, I really felt it, I really meant it.  In that moment, my spirit finally felt free!  I continued to pray the Word of God and vigorously dealt with sin as the Spirit revealed it.  This was not a one shot deal.  I quickly realized this is war!

Within days, the most curious thing began to happen.  Instead of numerous, vague physical symptoms, my health situation started to get really clear.   One doctor had gone one direction and found that to be part of one problem, but not the whole answer.  Another had shot toward another possibility and while that test came out negative, another issue did pop up from the same test.  The week before that test was scheduled my symptoms became very specific.  We now had some real evidence to go on.  No more mysterious, vague symptoms.  The battles lines were drawing tight.

I truly believe that by dealing with the sin of the past, clarity had come to the whole situation.  I was not instantly healed but instead, the real issue was now being exposed to the light.  One cannot pump poison into a body and not expect harm; likewise one cannot pump poison into the soul and not expect consequences.  With the spiritual refuse out of the way, the true source of damage in my body from the chemo began to reveal itself.

Matthew 22:37-40 speaks of the 2 commandments of the New Testament.  “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.   And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.   On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  How we treat God and how we treat fellow man is the core of true Christianity.  The Old Testament declared that breaking the law, disobeying God, would bring all manner of curses upon the children of Israel.   We tend to think we are too sophisticated these days for curses but the point has not changed.  Break these two commandments and you open yourself up to all manner of the curse of the law of sin and death. (see Romans 8:2)

Jesus understood this law.  That is why He died!  Galatians 3:13 tells us “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”’ Jesus Christ broke the curse against us by offering full forgiveness which He secured by paying the literal price for our sin, thus giving us a way to break the curse.  Forgiveness is the key to our freedom!

But the opposite is just as true.  Sin is the key to poisonous curses that affect us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.  Unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness are some of the deadliest poisons we can spiritually take.  Jesus tackled this topic in Matthew 18: 23-37 when He explained that the one who would not forgive was turned over to the tormentors.

To change the heart of a man or a woman is a much more spectacular miracle than to bring life back to a dead or dying organ or remove the effects of chemo on the physical body.  Had I not dealt with that, I would have continued on in confusion and bondage until my physical body completely fell apart under the weight of it all.  Now, the way is clear for God to do His work in the physical realm.  I believe God will fully heal my body of whatever damage the chemo has wrought.  I will stand on His Word to see that through.  But the greater miracle to me is that He made a way for me to find forgiveness and through forgiving my fellow man, I am freed from the curse of the law of sin and death!

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”   3 John 1:2