The last week of April we were in California prepping for my daughter’s wedding on the 30th. I planned to do a post about the wedding but something happened prior to the big day and I had to share that with you.
I was chatting with some family members and in the course of the conversation about a subject very sensitive to me I blurted out, “I still haven’t forgiven them for…” As soon as I said that I knew it was wrong, but I was so caught up in the deliberate offense of what had been done that I didn’t see my error.
Those involved in the misdeeds had been in the wrong. People lost jobs. There were huge fines laid down. The illegality had been handled by those in charge—who were not me. It was not my place to judge or to hold a grudge, yet I did.
We all face these times of unforgiveness when something cuts deep and the hurt is so bad we stuff it down inside rather than dealing with it and letting go. People say or do something to us or a loved one and that seed of anger festers until we have condemnation ruling our hearts.
A few months ago, in Bible study, one of the sections dealt with this issue. The teacher pointed out that we are to pray and forgive, but sometimes one prayer doesn’t do the job. If the offense is very heavy we need to be conscious of the fact that we still harbor ill feelings. It can take months to get rid of every bit of the hurt and anger, but we must persevere.
Every time a thought of the inciting incident pops up we must assess if we still have animosity toward that person. If we do, we must pray more, asking God to help us forgive until we have no ill will toward those who did the slight. Depending on the depth of the wrong done, this can take a little time or a long time. But, if we continue in prayer, there will come a day when the thought of that hurt will no longer bother us. Then true forgiveness has happened.
As I’ve thought about my statement of not forgiving, I’ve realized God brought that to the surface so I can deal with something I harbored deep within for way too long. Stuffing our feelings down deep instead of dealing with them is easy to do, but God is faithful to point out areas where we need to change.
What I held on to for several years was ridiculous. It wasn’t anything I could change by harboring that anger and hatred. It was detrimental to my health and my relationship with Christ.
Now that I realize it’s there, I am praying to be rid of this area of unforgiveness. I pray that you ask God to show you any hidden hurts that you have and begin to pray and get rid of those. They are not worth carrying around even if you don’t think of them every day.
It only takes a moment to begin the journey to forgiveness. With God’s help you can do it.
“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
Over the course of my lifetime, there have been some very deep personal hurts that I have needed to forgive, and it sometimes has been incredibly difficult and has taken a very long time. But there are a few things I have learned in the process that have been a tremendous help, and I find myself needing to relearn and re-apply them more often than I would like. One of these lessons is that forgiving doesn’t mean we excuse or condone acts that are truly wrong. If the Ten Commandments or the laws of the land say something is wrong, you can be sure it is ( at least, in any sane society.) Another important lesson was that forgiveness can pretty much be boiled down to simply letting go of any perceived need to get back at the person or be the one to dole out any punishment or other just consequence. That is up to God and also, often, the courts. It doesn’t mean that we are supposed to have the “warm fuzzies” for the person or be best buds with them. And it doesn’t mean that because we forgive, we also trust them. There are times when trust can be re-established, but often it cannot, and would indeed be foolish. One thing that has helped me probably more than anything else in this whole area is to realize that God is the One truly Just Judge, and there is nothing that will escape His judgment forever. Thank you for sharing this always timely message about the importance of forgiveness.
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Well said, Linda. Thank you.