Someone asked me, “How do you forgive the person that has hurt you?” That’s not an easy question to answer. And, yet, I know that we MUST forgive. Jesus admonishes us to “Forgive as you have been forgiven.” Really? Because that takes forgiveness to another level…that level takes more than flesh can give. I guess that’s the point.
Forgiveness comes more easily for some than others. Some pains are more easily forgiven. The ignorance of the one that hurt you, for instance, over time might be easier to dismiss. But what about the malicious acts of pain and abuse, the in your face I hate you kind of grievances? Or the people that abuse you, misuse you, and break your heart again and again behind closed doors where no one else sees? What of those?
One thing I have to remind myself is this: My enemy is not flesh and blood. He works through flesh and blood and manipulates others to come against me, but my enemy is deeper than that. When you can disconnect the pain from the person and attribute it to a “greater” source, perhaps you can forgive more easily. I know in the significant pains that I have faced in my life and overcome, it has taken that. I could stew about so and so and what they did to me, or I can realize that, like it or not, they too were victims of a hateful enemy that simply longs to kill and destroy and will stop at nothing to see it happen.
Oh but wait! Leslie? You are then excusing the sin!? Yes.
“Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
Luckily, Jesus didn’t hang on a cross and blurt out, “Leslie Ann, this nail in my hand is for you, for the times that you lied, were unfaithful, murdered men in your heart, and took my name in vain!” He simply stated, “Father forgive them…” I was included in that blanket forgiveness, as were my accusers and my attackers. It held no stipulations or quid pro quo; forgiveness was given without a thought to the specific sin. It isn’t what put him there that mattered to Him, but the ones He was setting free!
“How do you forgive the person that has hurt you?”
You have to choose. Choose two things: First, remember the One that was hurt FOR you. Secondly, forgive as you have been forgiven. This is a little easier when you are removed from him or her. But in the case that they are still in your life, pray for them. Never discount the power of spoken prayer. Your circumstances may not change, but I guarantee your heart will; yielded and pliable in the Hands of your loving Savior, your heart can take on a softness you never thought possible.
I’m praying for the person that reads this and harbors unforgiveness, anger, and hatred. I have been where you are, and for years I allowed that bitterness to fester and to grow. Then, I forgave and released the stress and energy that had occupied my mind and heart for years, holding me back from taking hold of the abundant life found through Christ Jesus. Forgiveness, I once heard, isn’t about forgetting what was done. It’s the act of releasing the chokehold around the perpetrator’s neck. Let them go… and they will lose their hold over you.
I leave you with these words of Corrie Ten Boom, when she was looking into the eyes of the man that had abused, mistreated her, and passionately hated her for no other reason than she was a Jewish sympathizer:
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”