I forgive you.
In this medium, under this pretense, it’s pretty easy for me to type that. Watch I’ll do it again; I forgive you. As my kids would say, “easy peasy.” Let’s try and make it more difficult, “Please forgive me.” Well, in this instance that wasn’t very difficult either. But what happens when we speak either one of those phrases in a situation where they carry significant meaning? How “easy peasy” is it then? Get ready for this one…it’s not! Forgiveness is hard, whether you are the forgiver or the forgiven. In fact, I would argue that it is one of the most difficult things to deal with in life.
When my son, who was less than two at the time, decided to dump a brand new box of Cheerios all over the kitchen floor because he wanted some, well that was easy to forgive…after I introduced him to the broom and dust pan. (Just kidding… It was the vacuum.) When I forget to throw some clothes in the dryer that my wife asked me to, it’s easy for me to ask for forgiveness. Not sure if I’ve received it yet, but I think I am close.
But what happens when someone in our life deeply hurts us? What happens if it continues over a period of time? What do I do if someone hurts a friend of mine, my wife, or even my kids? Social justice would dictate I seek revenge, possibly even avenge the wrong that was done to me or those around me. In the emotional tidal wave of the moment, these seem like acceptable solutions, but is that how it works? Is that what you and I are called to do? Do we ever feel whole again with vengeance? If the answer is no, those are not acceptable solutions; if the answer is no, vengeance will not restore me—will not restore you—then what else is there?
Forgiveness. Seriously? Seriously. But how could we possibly do that? There are some situations—some scenarios—that are unforgivable, right?
Wrong. In order to understand this answer, we must first flee from the notion of worldly justice. That does not mean that legal actions or other appropriate means should be done away with. It does not mean we should hide our hurt and frolic around as if life is all sunshine and rainbows. No, it means not seeking revenge. It means not wishing harm upon those who harm us. It means forgiving people for the wrong they have done because through Christ Jesus you and I have been forgiven for the wrong we have done.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12 NIV)
At this point in my life I take solitude in that verse, but at other points in my life I did not necessarily understand the magnitude of that verse. I didn’t accept that as Truth. I have heard people say, “If you knew the things I have done… Trust me, God doesn’t want to hear from me.” “God could never forgive me for some of the things I have done.”
Earlier in life I could relate to some of those sentiments. But then you read how Jesus forgave an adulterer when the world literally wanted to kill her (John 8:7), how He told His disciples forgiveness is to be an unending act (Matthew 18:21-22), how in His dying moments, after He had been ridiculed and humiliated, beaten and tortured to the point of death, He asked God to forgive His offenders (Luke 23:34). “Yes, but that’s Jesus. I am not Jesus.” No you’re not and kudos to you for recognizing that. Truth: neither am I. But if the Lord over all is able to forgive those who persecuted and killed Him, how can I not be encouraged that I can be forgiven? And if I am forgiven for that, which I have done, how can I not forgive others? But its hard! Amen. Then how do I get past that?
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)
We pray and then if need be, we pray some more. We pray for God to open our hearts and our eyes to the situation at hand and what it means in this life. We pray that God would surround us with those who can help. We pray for God to give us the strength, the ability, and perhaps most of all the courage to utter a true sentiment of forgiveness. My friends, if God can forgive you and I how can we not forgive each other?
Has there been a time in your life that you have had to give or seek forgiveness? How were you able to accomplish this feat? Your response and insight are more of a blessing than you know.