By Jeffrey Sherlock
I humbly offer this word of encouragement and share with
you how the Lord has been working in my life. I pray that in
sharing some of my struggles and how God is leading me
through them that someone elses burden will be lightened.
About 22 years ago I left the Marines a physically,
mentally and spiritually broken person. Because of
situations I had faced and the fact that I was now very
physically impaired at 27 years old I had a lot of
bitterness and resentment in my heart. Darkness seemed to
surround me, and all of this was compounded by the place I
now found myself, a place of helplessness. I had nothing to
offer any employer. I couldn't keep a single thought
straight in my mind and the pain and fatigue I faced every
day were a shock to my system. Such physical challenge and
disability were devastating to me especially because I had
always been so physically active. My nights were filled with
terrors so dark I was afraid to sleep and I woke up yelling,
drenched in sweat.
The fact I couldn't work pulled hard on my sense of
pride; I had always been able to work hard and push past any
problem. I felt useless to my family and to the world. My
pride and self-esteem were struck yet another hard blow
because I had to humble myself and ask the V.A. (Veterans
Administration) for help; I had nowhere else to go.
Bearing my soul to complete strangers who were
indifferent and uncaring for my suffering added to the fire
of bitterness ever building in my heart. I had served with
honor, I had been promoted and given medals and awards for
my service but now that I was broken, no one cared. I was
now useless and disposable to my government, a liability.
Though I desperately needed help, my integrity was always
I was treated like a criminal who only wanted drugs, a
beggar that no one wanted to acknowledge hoping that if they
ignored me long enough I would just give up, crawl away and
die and be one less problem. The humility that I faced
pushed me deeper into darkness.
The fires of hate burned bright in me and seemed to give
me strength, though they were truly killing my spirit.
People whom I blamed for the cause of my problems were the
fuel to the darkness in my soul. They were the focus of my
hate and bitterness and I now found myself filled with rage
fantasizing about their demise. How I wished I would run
into them in some dark alley and set things right.
I dreamed of being a Dark Hero for the downtrodden, those
who had been bullied, hurt or abused, those who had been
murdered by evil men. I would get vengeance for the wronged
in this world. How sweet would that be? My heart was so
twisted by hate and bitterness. I still thought I was a good
man, wanting to fight evil with evil.
But now PRAISE GOD my story starts to change. Jesus and
his great sacrifice for me always had a place in my heart. A
flicker of light that pushed back at the darkness inside me.
The Holy Spirit Who lived in me before all this happened had
not given up on me. The prayers of my devoted family and
friends who tirelessly interceded for me were being
Jesus pulled at my heart reminding me of his great love
for me. He showed me he was my strength and the hate in my
heart was my weakness. I knew I had to make a choice and a
change and surrender it to him. I was nowhere near
forgiveness, but I surrendered my hate and asked God to make
Still years went by as Jesus worked in me. He gave me
back my joy and I sought Him more and more. During this time
of renewal I faced two major brushes with death, true
miracles of God's mercy to me. Now the words I had read many
times had new meaning to me. Romans 8:28 - And we know that
in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose. God used
these tragedies-turned-miracles to awaken the last in me
that was still sleeping.
I didn't want to waste any more time; I had a hunger and
thirst for God's Word. I sought His truth and found it on
every page. It was as if all the words I read were written
to me. I found new life. Now as I read in James 1:22 I
didn't just want to be a hearer of the word, I wanted to be
a doer. And as I read John 4:23 I wanted to be a true
worshiper and worship the Father in spirit AND in truth.
I examined myself and surrendered more. Eph 4:31-32 - Get
rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate
to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God
forgave you. Wow here is that "forgive" word again. Then I
read 1 John 2:9-11 - Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light
and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But
anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and
walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they
are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
These people I had hated were made in God's image and he
loves them as much as he loves me. The Bible says while I
was yet a sinner—an enemy of the Cross—Christ died for me.
God tells us: be holy because I am holy, forgive as I have
forgiven you, as in the parable in Matt. 18:23-35. Then
reading Luke 6:27-28 But to you who are listening I say,
("ok, God, I'm listening") love your enemies, do good to
those who hate you, bless those who curse you. Pray for
those who mistreat you.
Jesus, I know you can do this because you are God, while
on the Cross you asked your Father, forgive them for they
know not what they do. But how can I do that? I am just a
man. Then I was reminded of Stephen who while being stoned
to death looked to heaven and said the same thing, forgive
Ok, Jesus, I hear you, I want to see people as you see
them. You see the beautiful thing they can be even while
they are servants of the enemy. Help me love as you love and
forgive as you forgive because I don't know how I can do
this, how can I love my enemy. As I struggled over this,
these words filled my mind. Eph 6:12 - For our struggle is
not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against
the authorities against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
For the struggle is not against flesh and blood; that is how
you can love these people, because they are not the enemy.
They are bound by the enemy as you once were, but if you
show them my love and pray for them, I can change that.
Then I am reminded of yet another miracle, how Saul an
outspoken oppressor of the gospel and persecutor of the
early church became Paul the gospel’s greatest apostle. How
God takes abortion doctors and opens their eyes and now they
are the biggest voices for pro-life.
I know in all this God changed my heart and helped me to
not only forgive my enemies but to love them and pray a
blessing over them and their families. This was a miracle!
I also know that there are many people who have more
reason to not forgive than I and that they have been hurt
even deeper than I can imagine. But Christ died and rose
again to set ALL captives free. If you’re struggling, a
captive of hate and unforgiveness and are ready for freedom
and victory but you don't think it's possible. Just start
with surrender, give your burden to Jesus and he will make
the change in your heart.