How to End Your Tortured Life

Hope from His Word and Healing in His Presence

I hadn’t been to church in weeks. Illness, traveling, family needs, life. You get it. Last Sunday, we actually got to church. I’m always amazed at how no one at church looks like they are facing something impossible.

Tortured Life
(Image from Unsplash)

Everyone looks so pretty and polished; fresh and clean. However, how we look on the outside does not usually reveal what’s on the inside.

Because I wear my heart on my sleeve, it doesn’t take long for the sermon to press into the places where I’m struggling and remind me that I need a fresh reminder of the power of Christ’s cross.

But that was not how things started out last Sunday. The music didn’t really move me like it used to . . . the silence felt more irritating than peaceful . . . I was restless. The sermon was from Matthew 18. Here’s a taste:

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21–22 NLT)

Has this ever happened to you: after listening to a prayer or a sermon, you are convinced the preacher has read your email or perused your texts and is now speaking directly to you?

The preacher prayed that the Lord would bring to mind any person we had . . .

  • Not forgiven
  • Held a grudge against
  • Were bitter toward
  • Hated deeply

Sometimes it feels like God takes His time answering our  prayers. This was not one of those occasions.

I’m humiliated to admit it, but name after name of people I hadn’t thought of in literally 30 years came to mind. I promised the Lord I would commit to forgiving and letting go.

My Impossible

Easier said than done. Forgiveness is my IMPOSSIBLE. Some evil things have happened to me, as well as to my kids and my family—things that were so painful I didn’t think we would make it through.

And because Jesus modeled righteous anger with His whip of cords in John 2:15, it seemed perfectly plausible that my anger was righteous also, considering the atrocities my family and I had endured.

However, Matthew 18 never offers a “justifiable, reasonable” clause: if we choose not to forgive, we are turned over to the torturers. No exceptions.

What exactly does that mean? It’s the same for us all because God’s Word is not relative to our comfort; it’s foundational to our lives. In Matthew 18:34–35, Jesus warned that His Father turns over to be tortured anyone who refuses to forgive a brother or sister in his or her heart.

Jesus made this comparison during the time of Roman occupation. The Romans performed severe, appalling torture methods:

  • Flaying skin
  • Stretching limbs on the rack
  • Burning
  • Boiling
  • Mauling by wild beasts

But torture isn’t limited to physical pain. We can be tortured mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We can be plagued by the works of Satan and demons:

He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Solomon prays in 1 Kings 8 for God to hear the prayers of His people who have sinned and forgive them:

If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near. But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. (1 Kings 8:46–49)

Tortured Life

(Image from Unsplash)

God is concerned about our hearts. Our hearts of repentance. Our compassionate hearts that are quick to forgive, because He has forgiven us. Our hearts that hunger and thirst to love and follow the Lord more than the desire to feed vendettas.

God, who allowed His own Son to endure the worst torture so that we would be granted mercy and forgiveness, calls us all to the same forgiveness.

What has been done to you must be released to God. It’s not your battle to fight any longer.

Your Impossible

Perhaps your IMPOSSIBLE is believing we have just cause to cling to what God wants us to release. Sometimes we need something to remind us that God is for us, not against us; that He alone can achieve what we cannot do for ourselves.

We need to remember that healing comes when we let go and wait and obey. Sometimes, circumstances in life are so big, so deep, and so painful that only God can get us through. Sometimes we need to be told that what we are called to do in our humanity is impossible without God.

I have a list of people and circumstances I’m working through a process for forgiving and letting go. It will take time in His Word and stillness in His presence for me to hear God’s comforting voice and begin to experience His healing care. It will for you too.

But examine the alternative: how do you want to live, and how do you want to be remembered? How’s your heart?

Let Me Hear from You

Who is someone you struggle to forgive? Let’s work on this together.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 thoughts on “How to End Your Tortured Life

  1. Good morning Colleen,
    I was viewing a website that I heard on the Christian radio I listen to, please when you have time see this website, “I am” . wow. Incredible stories of receiving Jesus Christ, and the pain that led up to each transformation. It so reminded me of the path I have been led in your being the one to have been placed before me to help lead me without fear to our most faithful God. This website I believe that you will find incredible and inspirational, encouraging all of us to follow what comes to a peak to let go and forgive and let God take all these pains, hurts,etc, and incredible I can relate to Esther in that when she let go in end of her transformation to love and marry, only after finding the love of Jesus transform her, she only then let go and truly moved forward,and her abusive biological father passed something like 5 days after her new life began in marriage in love. wow! I found this when I learned of the individual who had harmed me learning of his passing a year ago, only learned this when I let all go with siblings as have posted directed by God and just went with travel to be with my dad as passing, and left my heart so fully in our Lord’s hands. wow. God will remove those I believe for our obedience and forgiveness, I really believe this truth. If there is scripture I have forgotten or speaking of this , I would love to know of this. Now I need to understand what being led with brother and remaining patterns that exist around family? God will lead me the way. and provide as he always has.
    Incredible story ,incredible love of Jesus and his working when we cannot see the possible.
    Love Sand

  2. Hello Colleen,
    I have continued to pray for you and your family and for your friend on hospice.
    I know I have found myself in healing of forgiveness with the following of God direction when he dropped the book out of my closet and it opened to the page of The book of Joseph,and the page where it has illustration with “Joseph forgives his brothers”, and Genesis 50:20 scripture – “you meant to do me evil; but God meant it for good”, and when I saw this as picking book up off floor ,I knew this was my clear direction to go drive the many hours to my father passing and put all with siblings and family pain and hurt with God. God I knew had some plan and this was what felt impossible for me to do but I left myself fully in God’s hands and nothing is impossible with God and trusting him completely with my heart. So off I went and you have heard this so know the rest. I will say as I was ready leave ,a dynamic suddenly appeared that is the pattern of pain and hurt that my siblings and family seem to continue to practice and it hurt me as my relationship has grown with Jesus as my Savior and realizing that this difference between me and my family leaves only God to do what possible there. It is now with a brother I would have never thought to follow a pattern that is ugly, and his actions are of hostility and anger that he is being hurtful in his actions and “self righteousness” attitude. He is not a Christian, and there is no dialogue that is constructive because he just is kind of like the author and speaker of the new movie out, Lee Strobel, in a sense that there is no speaking to someone who is so self righteous and hostile. I am in process of letting God take care of this. In meantime this brother I would be in touch with , I have not been since I left to come back home,which is about 3 weeks now. I need God to show me as he has always shown me with direction and letting him take the impossibility I feel to the possible by his work. I continue to pray for healing that my family, siblings still need, right now that is what I pray for this situation. I know I need to protect my heart and God has that too in his hands, so I wait for his direction ,and within me know I am going to need let go the issue of disappointment that came over me and the wanting to steer clear of this brother for his behavior was not logical hositility toward me, it has no founding but his taking out what emotion of anger that is bubbling over for him from his own lack of healing old issues from within and taking that out in destructive ways toward others that are completely innocent and loving. He has to come to God to understand my perspective and I will continue believe that God brought me there to be by my dads side in his passing and all was ok for those moments, that if it his work that only possible success rate then I will believe he will bring this along the path it needs to take so I too can speak to my brother . Right now I still holding on to the human part that I will not enable someone acting in this bad behavior and doing also what was done to me in excluding now my middle sister from trip all siblings going, my sister was not invited. This is the same that was done to me but a different cluster of siblings each time acting this way, and this brother knowing how hurtful it was when done to me by others, he is not acting the same negative pattern and toward my sister. It goes deeper than I can speak here but for reasons that are so dysfunctional and abusive ,that she did not go to another in law in his death bed because of abuse. this is where only God can heal this level of dysfunction that my brother can act and behave to level of emotional abuse of shunning my sister without any empathy or support of her actions are taking good care of herself and her actions I commend. There can be forgiveness but not acceptance or friendship with others as my sister has and I too have lived to know .
    I leave this to God to do the possible as he has always proven to show me in ways I may have never expected just as my dads passing and bringing me to his side for the closure that I experienced ,it was all God doing.
    WIth love and thinking of you ,
    May you be well
    With Love Sand

    • Sand,
      I just wrote to you about your siblings stuff. I think you are spot on with the choices you are making…to keep a safe distance with someone who is capable of hurting your soul. The fact that you said you know you cannot control it is great…we have no control over anyone else but our selves. That truth alone would free up many people. Often, instead of choosing growth like you have, we choose distractions like control which never help anyone. For you to hand it off to God, you know He is more than capable of taking care of it all. I hope that brings you peace in the days ahead. You are a treasure, loved, valuable, and priceless. All my love, Colleen

  3. This sermon spoke to me also, about my daughter-in-law who hasn’t spoken to me in years! This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. She has broken my heart many times over. I’ve never had anyone hate me before, I always get along with everyone! But God is faithful and gives me grace. I pray for the day that God will change her heart and our relationship will be restored.

    • Judy,
      My heart breaks for you in reading your message. I’m so sorry for the pain and grief that goes so deep as a result of this broken relationship. If it’s of any encouragement, my family has also had periods of time where there was distance. Yes, the Swindoll family is no different…we have gone through dark periods of relational sorrow and there are no words to describe how lonely and at times sad you feel. Knowing you, knowing your trust in Christ, I believe there will be a reconcilliation at some time. God is hearing your prayers, He is working on this and is actively involved regardless of how it may feel. It’s the enemy’s desire for us to feel forgotten or angry at God…may that not be so. My prayer is that even in the darkest and loneliest moments, you will continue to trust His promises and believe He is present. I’ve needed that reminder many times…you are not alone. May our Lord Jesus Christ bring you hope, refreshment, and comfort as you endure this deep pain. I also pray that what He is doing in your heart brings you freedom and purpose in the days ahead. Thank you so much for letting me know and I will pray that God makes a way for you in this. Please let me know how you are when you have a moment. You are a treasure, Colleen