Redemption When Reconciliation Isn't Possible

by Lysa TerKeurst September 29, 2022
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18 (ESV)

I’m long-suffering. I’m loyal to a fault. I want to be strong enough and mature enough to live at peace with all people. But this isn’t always possible.  

That’s why I’m so thankful for two really key words found in Romans 12:18, which says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Pay attention to those first two words: “If possible …”

This implies that sometimes you can do what’s necessary to have peace, but if another person isn’t willing or isn't capable of working toward peace, sometimes it isn’t possible to live at peace with them.

Unless two people in a relationship are humbly willing to come together and do the work, sometimes we have to learn to move on when a relationship doesn’t.

This is so incredibly hard. And my heart is so sensitive to people who, with all their hearts, want all their relationships to work. I understand this heartbreak on such deeply personal levels. So if that’s you today, I want to encourage you with a perspective shift I think will really help you no matter what you’re facing:

We can still experience redemption with God even when unhealthy or unsustainable relationships with others have to end.

You see, this is what I’ve gotten mixed up in the past. We have to be careful not to confuse redemption with reconciliation. Reconciliation requires the cooperation of both people who are individually willing to put in the healing work. Redemption, though, can be just between you and God.

This means even if your situation doesn’t allow for relationship reconciliation and you find yourself saying a necessary goodbye, redemption with God is still yours for the choosing.

God can redeem your life, even if damaged human relationships don't come back together. And you can still forgive even if the relationship never gets restored. I’ve found it to be so incredibly freeing to forgive and not have to wait on the other person, who may or may not ever be willing or want to talk through all of this. Forgiveness isn't always about doing something for a human relationship but rather about being obedient to what God has instructed us to do. And I’m convinced those who cooperate most fully with forgiveness are those who will dance most freely in the beauty of redemption.

I don’t know how this speaks to you personally today. But here’s what I know: Forgiveness is a process. Healing is a long journey. And even the most imperfect, messy forgiveness, filled with hesitation and resistance, is better than letting bitterness have its full way with your heart. You don't have to cooperate with forgiveness perfectly for it to be good.

If you find yourself in a situation today where you feel like you have nothing else to give, a goodbye is probable and your heart is deeply hurting, I want to close today with these honest words from David in Psalm 6: “The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9, ESV).

Oh, friend … God hears your plea. God accepts your prayer.

Reconciliation or not, God will breathe redemption into the shattered pieces of your story and create something new and more beautiful than ever before. In His way. In His timing.

God, thank You for working on my behalf even when I feel like I'm at the end of my own strength. I trust You to bring beauty from my story even when the pieces of it feel so broken. Thank You for carrying me through this day and through this season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Having to face a devastating end to a relationship doesn’t make you a failure. It also doesn’t make you an epic disappointment as a Christian. On the contrary, sometimes the most God-honoring thing we can do is let go of what is so that we can experience the hope of what could be. If you’ve struggled to determine when it’s time to make necessary changes, felt like saying goodbye goes against the best of who you are or grieved the loss that comes from a relationship ending, download Lysa’s free three-day devotional Can a Goodbye Ever Really Be Good? here.




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Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

In the middle of hard relational issues, remember the promise from Psalm 34:18. How does knowing that redemption happens between you and God comfort your soul today? Take a minute to pray to the Lord, I believe You can redeem my circumstance today. Will You show me how to take that step?

We’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2022 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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