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Tony Evans
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One of the greatest struggles that we face on our journey of life comes in a tiny word that most, if not all, of us have asked at one time: Why? Why did God allow the sickness to take my child while he was still small? Why did my marriage fall apart? Why did the relationship break, or the company downsize or the bank foreclose on my home? Why did that person do that thing to me at that time when I was that young? Why?

Three letters, but in them we find the question that has touched each of our hearts at some point in time—when life just doesn’t seem fair anymore.

Friend, if you can discover the answer to these three letters—you will discover the answer to finding the freedom of forgiveness. Because in that answer you will know that there is a purpose for your pain. Freedom can be defined as a release from illegitimate bondage in order to make the choice to exercise responsibility in actualizing and maximizing all that you were created to be. When you are not free, you are not able to fully live out the life God has planned for you. That’s why it is so important to rid yourself from the illegitimate bondage of unforgiveness.

your destiny

When God allows troubles and trials in your life, He has a purpose to bring you to the fulfillment of your destiny. The struggles you have faced which have given birth to unforgiveness are not some random chaotic mess, as they may have appeared. God has a purpose for what He allows. Unfortunately, we often miss that purpose because we get too focused on the pain.

However, through the power of forgiveness, you can dignify your difficulties by unearthing the destiny God is taking you to through the mess. Like pain in an athlete’s life takes the athlete to a greater level of strength, trials and troubles do the same for a believer, if you allow them to. That is, if you don’t lose faith.

In Luke 22, we read that Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked permission to sift him like wheat. In other words, Satan wanted to mess Peter up. In this particular case, He would do it through the prodding and precipitation of Peter’s own personal sin thus leading Peter to the point where he would need to forgive himself.

But Satan uses a myriad of ways to seek to mess with humanity; one of the primary ways is through the sins we commit against each other. These sins committed against us produce within us fear, bitterness, hate and everything that is opposite of God’s greatest command and our highest purpose—love. As a result of fear, bitterness and hate, we are then more inclined to do what I call “compounded sin.” These are sins we commit as responses, coping mechanisms or distractions from the pain of the fear, loss, trauma and the like. Then, on top of unforgiveness that we hold toward others, it becomes compounded with guilt and shame that we now harbor within ourselves. And then the cycle only builds.

But a principle I don’t want to gloss over too quickly is that Satan had to ask permission to mess with Peter before he could do it. If you are God’s child, Satan has to get permission first. Even the devil is under God’s sovereign hand. He can’t just go and do whatever he wants to do. Nothing can reach you that doesn’t first pass through God’s hand.

Yet what I struggle with, and what you may also struggle with as well, is why did God allow Satan to mess with Peter and the disciples? Why does He allow Satan to mess with any of us for that matter? That question will frustrate you quickly if you don’t live with a perspective of God’s sovereignty.

Sovereignty means that God either causes all things to happen, or He allows all things to happen. Yet whether He causes it or allows it, when everything is finished, it will come out the way He wants it to come out for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)—for those who, like Peter, don’t “lose the faith.” To “lose the faith” doesn’t mean to lose your salvation or to stop believing in God. Rather, it is a reference to giving up, throwing in the towel, trading love for hate, fear for trust, and self-preservation for giving. It is what Jesus prayed would not happen to Peter when Satan sifted him, tested him and struck away at his soul. So important is this principle that Jesus himself prayed for Peter, and, as a result, Peter held on to his faith.

Peter would later go on to lead and preach at the greatest single evangelistic crusade in the history of Christianity—boldly proclaiming the name of the same Jesus he had previously so cowardly denied.

God’s ultimate goal for you is the same as His goal for Peter—that you become a mature Christian and reflect His glory to those around you. God’s method toward bringing you to maturity is oftentimes through trials that train. Similarly, those trials often include offenses that others have done, or are doing, to you as well as what you may have done yourself.

How you answer the question of “why” in your life will have everything to do with how far you go to fully manifesting and experiencing the “why” you have been placed here on earth—which is to live out your purpose. When you understand that God allows things to happen in order to strengthen you, you will be able to grow to a place where you can forgive and let go.

For His kingdom,

Tony Evans

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