It is with some reluctance that I start writing this blog on forgiveness, because it is not an easy subject to write about. I do not know you personally. It’s much easier when we know one another’s personal stories and look each other in the eye and then, when there is trust, speak about how essential it is to forgive. To address this important topic can easily offend someone, because it touches painful issues and maybe you say: ‘Hey … you don’t know what I’ve been through and what he or she did to me.’
Well, there you have a point. I have not ‘walked in your shoes’ so to speak, but neither did you walk in mine. Probably we all are hurt at one point in life and I know full well what a struggle it can be to have to forgive the offender. But I also know from experience how unforgiveness can be a horrible prison; it can even make you physically and mentally sick.
The Bible says forgiveness is crucial. Not only for the offender, but also for the one who needs to forgive. Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus says in Matthew 6:13-15: ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ Later Paul would write:
‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (Colossians 3:13).
Those words are very clear, but still we find it very hard to forgive… our soul (our mind, our emotions and our will) wants to be comforted and justified. We want justice to be done, no grace for the other person; we cannot let go and all those thoughts and feelings go on and on like a merry-go-round in our head, from which we cannot escape.
Put a halt to it
The truth is: you and I can put this to a halt and get out of it! Is it easy? No, it’s not; quite often it’s a process, but it can be done; you don’t have to do it alone; ask the Lord to help you. By the way, it is less hard when the person shows sincere remorse and asks you to forgive him or her. That doesn’t nullify your hurt, but at least it was acknowledged. We struggle more in situations where there is no remorse at all; then it is hard to let go.
You don’t have to do it alone; ask the Lord to help you.
Here are some personal suggestions that were helpful to me.
- Do realize that to forgive is NOT the same as ‘to sweep it under the carpet.’ You can give it over in the hands of our Counselor, our Advocate Jesus Christ.
- Acknowledge you are hurt. Don’t minimize it. Look in the mirror and admit that you were wronged and that you are angry. It was an offense and unfair. It can be helpful to write things down or talk it through with a trusted friend.
- Be conscious that you cannot break free from this in your own strength. You need the Lord to help you do this. Tell Him: ‘Lord, I know you want me to forgive. Help me to want it too… Let me see that person through Your eyes.’
- Jesus died for our sins. It was grace that set us free and it did not come cheap. It was a gift we did not deserve. In the same way, when you decide to forgive and extend grace to the other, it is not a cheap thing…. You also give a gift to that person, a gift he or she does not deserve.
- The moment you forgive this person and give him/her over in the hands of the Lord you are set free. You break out of that prison you were in. It is wonderful to experience that power of forgiveness : you feel light and clean and free; it fills you with an abundance of joy, for the Lord helped you overcome the hurt and pain.
- One last thing… what about ‘God forgives and forgets?’ For a long time I found that very hard, because I forgave but could not forget and that made me doubt the sincerity of my forgiveness. But one day I heard a preacher say something that was a real eyeopener for me: ‘God forgives, but He does not forget. God forgives and He chooses to never bring it up again.’ What a freeing thought.
This blog may be a little longer than usual, but I hope and pray it will encourage you to break free from the prison of unforgiveness. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Our Lord is right beside you. God bless you.
Read also: Compete with my demons