Steven Furtick - When You Don't Feel Ready To Forgive
This is an excerpt from: No More Nails
We all have scars. We all have dysfunction. You might have long sleeves, but if I could roll up your sleeves, you've been through something. You struggle with something. Your wife may not know it, but God does. "So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But Thomas said…" This is why they call him "Doubting Thomas". I call him "Honest Thomas," "Truthful Thomas," because Thomas is like, "I'm not buying it. I'm not buying it off what you said. I need to see for myself. I have to see Jesus for myself. This has to be real to me". "Hey, unless I see the nail marks in his hands, unless I see where he suffered, I will not believe in his glory. Unless I put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I won't believe".
Watch Jesus. I want to point out one thing in verse 26. Seven days later, a week later… Seven. Seven miles, seven days. God will leave you in a space where you don't understand to create faith in your heart. Thomas says, "I need to see the scars". Jesus could have showed up on the spot. He waited seven days. Jesus could have walked up to Cleo and said, "See my scars? It's me". But sometimes he wants to let you walk and wonder and walk and wonder, not because he doesn't love you but because if your faith needs an explanation it cannot sustain the trials of life. So he waits seven days. Have you ever had to wait seven days? Have you ever had to wait through a custody battle? Have you ever had to wait to see if this is ever going to feel better? Have you ever had to wait through pain, wait through depression, wait through anxiety attacks, wait through bad reports, wait through a newscast? Have you ever had to wait? A waiting period.
Then when Jesus shows up a week later… Seven days, seven miles. It's the number of completion. Then Jesus shows up, maybe just at that point where Thomas is tired of waiting. The disciples were in the house again, and Thomas this time was there. Jesus walks in. Look at the next part. "Though the doors were locked…" They still locked the doors, still scared, but they stayed. I still have some addictions, but I'm in church today. God can work with that. I'm still on the road. I don't get it, but I'm still… This time Thomas was there. He's not going to miss it this time. "Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace.'" Watch what comes next. "Yo, Tommy! Hey, Didy! Hey, Honest Thomas! I heard you wanted to see my scars". This is important. "Put your finger here…" Where? Where the nails were. "Isn't that what you needed to see, Thomas? Where the nails were".
Notice something. He didn't say where the nails are. "Yo, Tommy! I'm back from the grave, and I need you to see something. Look, Thomas. No more nails! Look, Thomas. They're not here. Put your finger where the sin was. Put your finger where the shame was. Put your finger where they tried to crucify the Creator of the world". Somebody shout, "No more nails"! In other words, what held me doesn't hold me anymore. I came to declare today is a day of freedom. I've heard so many sermons about forgiveness, because we've all been wounded. Raise your hand if life hasn't wounded you yet. I want to see where the liars are in the church, because I want to have a special prayer for all of the liars who would have the audacity to lie in the presence of God and act like you haven't been wounded. We've all been wounded.
Rock Hill, Gaston County… It doesn't matter. Toronto, Canada. You can't walk the road without being wounded. You can't go to church without being wounded. "He doesn't speak to me. That's why I left; he doesn't speak to me". I was in a church one time, and the preacher got them to sing about wounds. It was so weird, because he was preaching about wounds, and his thing was to try to get everybody to go back and remember all of the ways they've been wounded throughout their whole lives. He had me thinking of stuff in the third grade, just the craziest stuff, like that was going to bring healing. Look at this. Jesus didn't show Thomas his wounds. He showed him his scars. There is a difference between being wounded and being scarred. When I prayed about this first word of forgiveness, the Lord told me to talk to you about the nails.
Whatever has wounded you, whatever you hide, whatever happened… When Jesus shows Thomas his scars… I'm glad he kept his scars. I'm glad he kept that part. I'm glad he didn't stay dead, but I'm also glad he came out scarred, because that gives me hope. That's how I try to preach. I don't want to preach wounded, because if I preach wounded I'm going to inflict my pain on you. I don't want to be a wounded parent. I don't want to be a wounded spouse. God spoke to me a couple of months ago and said, "If I've really healed you like you claim I have, why are you still so touchy"? Thomas said, "I want to see where the wounds were".
When I teach preachers, I tell them, "Don't you get up and tell the church all of the ways you woke up at 5:30 a.m. If I put you in my pulpit, show the church some of your scars. You can show them the stones God has rolled away. That's fine. That's a part of it. He is a God of miracles. He is a God who makes dreams come true, and we all have some stones he has rolled away, but we all have some scars too. So show them your scars. Show them where you didn't get up at 5:30. In fact, show them where you pretended like you didn't hear the baby crying at 5:30 and Anna got up. Tell them that story. Tell them how you almost quit. Tell them how you wanted to throw up the first week you went out to preach after the news media ran a story about you for four days straight, saying things about you. Tell them that. Tell them how you were in the bathroom and you came out smiling".
Show them where the wounds were, and it'll give them hope that what wounded me doesn't have to hold me forever. It's time to be free! It's been long enough. It's been seven days. Forgiveness doesn't mean it didn't happen. The scars show it happened. Jesus didn't show up and say, "What cross? What are you talking about? Cross? I don't remember a cross".
I remember a preacher saying one time… This guy is an idiot. He should have his credentials revoked. He said, "If you've really forgiven someone in your heart, you will not even remember the offense". There is a word that comes to my mind to describe what he said, but I'm going to just say it's inaccurate. It's not denial. When I say forgiveness… I have to be careful, because I'm a pastor. I'm not just passing through preaching one week and leaving. I'm trying to go on a journey with you and to let you know that when you let go of whatever wounded you so that you can be free and go into the future God has for you, it doesn't mean you pretend it never happened.
This is not denial. The nails were there. "My dad walked out on me". Not my dad. I'm saying you can say, "My mom had an impossible standard I could never live up to, and I believe part of my eating disorder today has to do with that". I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I can't let it hold me. I cannot blame her forever, not if I'm a Christian, not if I worship the one who was wounded for my transgression. I need to let you know something. The hardest person you'll ever forgive is not your ex, is not your mom, is not your dad, is not your neighbor who came over your fence and your property line. The hardest person you will ever have to forgive is yourself. Truth be told, it is my self-inflicted nails that I have the hardest time letting go of.
I want the Devil to know when he comes to hammer at me with accusation… I don't know where you go when that starts to happen, how worthless you are. Have you noticed the Devil loves to hammer you? He has a big hammer, but let me tell you a little secret. He ain't got no more nails. Somebody shout, "No more nails"! The next time the Devil hammers you with accusations, shout back in his face, "You ain't got no nails"! All my nails are in that cross. All my shame is on that cross. "There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death". The Devil might have a hammer, but he doesn't have any nails. "Reach out and touch the place where the nails were".