Forgiving During This Invisible War

“God always answers in the deep, never in the shallows of our soul.” ~ Anonymous

Working at the prison’s Intake for many years when I was new brought so many different kinds of memories. Some were challenging [or most of them]. Some so tough that I just felt like giving up. Some were even tougher that I knew I survived, had it not for divine providence. Some were helpful for my own growth pertaining to my assessment, my interventions, or my autonomy with my decisions. But there were those memories that evoked hurt. Shame. Pain. Guilt. Doubts. Anger. The hunger for justice.

“Stop flashing your breasts!” I yelled so loud that the deputies nearby came rushing to my side.

There was this young inmate. So beautiful. Appearing so harmless because of the gentle nature. The way the words were spoken from the well-shaped lips. The way gestures were done with long, slim fingers. Imprisoned for the murder committed by those candle-like fingers. Deputies were always careful to search every crevices of that body. As many razor blades were adeptly hidden in those spots where no one would have imagined that it could be hidden. Attempting many suicidal thoughts by slashing the already well-scarred wrists, claiming many medical emergencies when self-mutilation was done, it became a habit. This inmate was a beautiful appearing woman. On the outside. The physical appearances of a woman enveloped in a man’s body. He was close to having surgery done to change his genital organs. But he killed someone.

He learned the system well. If he got bored in his cell, he would do anything to hurt himself so he could be housed in one of the Suicide Watch cells in Intake. Because he knew many male bodies arrive every minutes. And that was his pleasure.

During one of those watches, that was when I caught him alluring the newly-arrested bodies formed in a line. And he got in trouble! We decided to house him in a particular cell where there was a very tiny window and he wouldn’t be able to see nor be seen because it was only the staff who had the control of that window…And he grew silent. He learned a lesson. That his acts were unacceptable. He learned that he was causing embarrassment, not only to himself, but also to staff and to those who were being disgusted by his weird behavior. And he stopped. For a while. Until he was transferred to another state prison.
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9/11 remembrance. It was not over. This memory always must resurface. Because this memory was too painful to Americans. To those who suffered precious loss of lives so dear to them. Too hurtful because it was a deliberate act of murder to those innocent ones. I did post about God’s love that we must learn to forgive. But how do we do it when such acts seem forgiveness is just an impossible thing to do?

Letting an offender off the hook encourages him to repeat the same style of behavior again. And again. Yes, God does command us to love Him first, then love others. No bias. Other. Anyone. When something like this happens, a crack between relationships occur. It widens. Until there’s no closeness even and the separation so great that there seems to be no hope with reconciliation. We pretend sometimes that the hurt will not last. Wounds heal. And that people change. But we miss an opportunity to experience the joy of honest love, forgiveness and reconciliation if we keep on doing so. With God, there is balance in everything. We should not tolerate sins yet be able to forgive and rebuke at the same time only if coupled with His love.

We can openly rebuke at times, if only the offenders can understand that being rebuked is a way of honoring them. Because rebuke makes them think and be accountable for their actions. It is a way of honoring them, not fanning the flame of anger nor fury. It is a way of making them weigh and look into their inner selves to understand clearly what they have done. Other times, we must pray. Jesus did it on the cross:

“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” - Luke 23:34

Only God knows. Only God can bring the wounded ones toward the path of healing. Only God can bring those responsible ones to repentance. But two things are for sure, we do not close our eyes to sins that are more serious than we want to believe and our Christ-like faith does not mean believing whatever we want to believe. It is believing what His Word says. And obedience as being true followers of Jesus is after all, our duty! Fight? Yes, we must fight! For His truth and for His glory alone! Not for anyone's self-interest.  For we are engaged in this spiritual struggle until the Lord returns! To God be the glory forever and ever!

“But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” ~ Psalm 130:4

“…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
- Matthew 6:12

“With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.” ~ Luke 24:47

“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12

“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” -Ephesians 6:17-18
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The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]

Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.

Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.

All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.

When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.

The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.

When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.

[Source: NLT Bible ]:

We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.

“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14

Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].

Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.

Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.

Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].