Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
I have to be honest, when I began my journey toward loving and forgiving Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, I understood my need to forgive and knew that forgiving would bring me to a new and better place. I wanted to forgive.
The thing I did not want to do, however, was love my enemy. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. The word “love” in the same sentence as “enemy” didn’t seem to make sense to me. What’s more, the word “love” in reference to Anthony was repulsive.
Still, I knew that this is what the bible tells us to do. Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Yet, I didn’t quite understand it. The only insight I had on how to do this was to pray for Anthony and to do what God told me to do, which was to bring him a bible.
So, out of obedience, I began to pray for Anthony. I prayed good for him, though it was counterintuitive to all that was inside me. Honestly, I did not hate Anthony at this point, as I once did. Still, there were a lot of negative feelings associated with him. Even saying his name felt vile.
But I prayed nonetheless.
I prayed that God would change him. I prayed that God would heal him. I prayed that God would bring him to complete repentance. I even prayed that Anthony would be transformed by the gospel to the extent that he would be motivated to live to the glory of God in prison, bringing many prisoners to know and serve our Lord Jesus Christ (a pipe-dream prayer, or so I thought).
I prayed these things, yet I truly didn’t want good for him. It felt wrong, praying for Anthony––like I was betraying my dad––but I knew the ways of God are always right, regardless of our feelings. So, I continued to pray.
Little did I know at the time. These prayers would be answered. God was about to do a mighty work in and through me, and I believe much of this was a result of these prayers. I thank God that He gave me the grace to take this step of obedience.
Eight or nine months later, I saw the fruit of this difficult trial. Even then the trial wasn’t over, but it was then that I cried tears of awe and tears of joy as God began to show me how my prayers impacted myself, Anthony, and many others.
All I kept saying to anyone who would give me ear, was “God is crazy! God is just CRAZY!!!”
Truly, there are no words for the work I have witnessed Him accomplish. So, from the bottom of my heart, I encourage each of you to pray. Pray like the dickens! Pray for the needs in your life. Pray for that impossible situation that just won’t seem to get better! Pray for those who are far from God! And please, no matter how difficult, begin to pray for your enemies!
We serve a mighty God. A God who can do ALL things. A God who desires to display His splendor through works that only He can do in each of our lives! So, pray. And then believe Jesus when He tells us “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).
Blessings to you as you begin to pray for the impossible…
Be sure to visit Laurie's blog, LaurieCoombs.org!