« March 2012 « Feature
God Helped Me Forgive
The moment we stepped foot on the island, we fell in love with it. The people were so kind, so loving, and very welcoming. My parents, Larisson (my brother), and I were received with traditional flower leis smelling fresh and sweet. Our beautiful new house had a view of the tropical forest and the ocean. My dad was going to be the new district pastor and my mom would be a teacher in our school. We had so many dreams in mind for the next six years in Palau.
One and a half years later, on the night of December 21, 2003, we had spent some quality family time—talking, playing games, and singing Christmas hymns until we fell asleep. The next thing I remember is being awakened at three o’clock in the morning by strange sounds. I soon saw a stranger in the house, and my parents and brother lying on the floor. It’s almost impossible to describe the thoughts and feelings I felt that night. I literally could not feel the ground under my feet. But one thing I did feel: being held by strong arms, undoubtedly the reason I could not feel the ground.
Everything passed by so quickly. After 24 hours, this stranger left me by an unfamiliar road, thinking I was dead. Miraculously, after some hours, I was able to get up and flagged down a car. In the car was the sweetest couple, but I had no idea who they were. I still believe they were angels in disguise. No one would be passing by this deserted road at that time in the morning. I was taken to the hospital where I was taken care of by the doctors and nurses and guarded by FBI agents. I received many visits from the church members, friends, even the American Ambassador. But the biggest help for me in that most confusing moment was when my grandmother walked into my room. We hugged for so long. It was like a wind of refreshment during the hardest time of my life.
It was a very different Christmas, but I could still feel the joy of the season through the love of those around me.
Sometimes I look back at my life and think, “Did I really go through that?” There have been many times when I feel like nothing ever happened. It seems almost as if God covered my eyes while carrying me in His arms so that I didn’t have to remember or feel so much of what I really went through.
I live now to say that God saved me in a miraculous way that I can’t even start to explain. I have no human explanation as to why I was not also killed that day, only the fact that God had different plans for my life, and His purpose for me on this earth has not been completed.
The process of healing comes through many tears and prayer. Of course, it is not the same for everyone and there is no way of setting a time to it. It is said that time cures the hurt, and it’s true, but when we put our situations in His hands, “time” goes by much faster. It is very important that we do not stay “down in the dumps,” but that we get back up on our feet. Getting involved in school, in music, and at church really helped keep my mind off the negative things. Through personal devotional time, I was able to have a better relationship with God and cope with my pain much faster.
I believe that healing and forgiveness go hand in hand. Once you have forgiven a person, healing soon follows. I learned that forgiving doesn’t always mean that you have to forget as well. We forgive and still remember, but we don’t hold anything against the person anymore. It is certainly not possible to forgive someone if you haven’t asked God to put forgiveness in you. Forgiving is not only helpful to the person being forgiven, but it also does good to you. It’s as if you’re literally taking a load off of your shoulder. As sinners, we are not inclined at all to forgive, especially in a situation like this. But God is a heart specialist, and He can change any uncomfortable feelings, if you let Him work on it.
In the many great talks I had with my grandmother, she reminded me about the great controversy between good and evil, and that Satan had used that individual to perform those actions. She reminded me of Christ’s prayer when He was nailed to the cross: "Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34, NIV). The perpetrator was clearly under the strong influence of Satan. No one in his right mind would do such a cruel act. But if God forgave when He died on the cross, why shouldn’t I? And if God forgave me, why shouldn’t I forgive another sinner like me? The judgment of the perpetrator is not up to me, it’s up to God. He will set straight what needs to be straight.
I’ve come to learn that forgiveness is not human. It’s a divine attribute. And that is why it can only come from above.
Looking back I can see that my parents and brother accomplished much more in death than in life, and many blessings came out of what seemed to be the end of everything. I learned to be a much stronger person, and my relationship with the Lord flourished. Numerous opportunities came that would never have come had things not happened the way they did.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV). We will never truly be able to say, “I know exactly what you are going through,” because we don’t. Everyone has a different experience and story behind it all, however we are able to comfort someone in a way that others without the experience could not.
Before leaving Palau, I told the people that I would be back someday as a missionary. I don’t know what plans God has for me, but I do know that He says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9, NIV).
We do not need to know the answers to the “why,” “when,” and “how,” we just need to trust in His guidance.
I don’t share my story just for information or exposure. I share my story to acknowledge what God has done for me, and so that others can also see the mighty and glorious hand of God from a different viewpoint. I can guarantee you that what He’s done for me, He can do for you. We can be sure that “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NIV).