Forgiving someone for a hurt they’ve caused can be unbearably hard—even for Christians. Only God can give us the grace, the strength, the will to make such a choice to forgive. Only by forgiving can we receive His peace and joy and inner healing.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
National Forgiveness Day
The doe sauntered along my row of Coral Bells, taking a bite out of every one. From there she walked over to my one fenceless garden and sampled every newly-planted tomato plant. And that’s after I had been told deer don’t have a taste for them.
How could I forgive those doggone pests? Not to mention the slugs that determined to rob me of many other leaves, shoots, and roots.
I say this with tongue in cheek, for I realize wild animals couldn’t give a hoot or bark or grrr about my feelings. They’re only doing what they’re meant to do—eat whatever is available and tastes good.
Forgiveness, rather, has everything to do with wrongs done by other people. (Don’t tell that to cat owners whose pets have permanently spoiled their best rugs, however.) Unfortunately, too many people find it impossible to forgive others for their wrongs. Some say they’ll give a person one chance. After that, they’ll not forgive. Others say they’ll forgive anything a person does except ___. (You fill in the blank.)
Percy Shelley, a poet of the 1800s, called some wrongs “darker than death or night.” When we hear about the terrible acts of violence, we can certainly agree with his description. Many such acts are beyond a human’s ability to forgive.
Enter Jesus Christ, who not only forgives even the worst sinner, but who gives us the ability, desire, and power to forgive.
June 23rd is National Forgiveness Day, promoted by the Center of Awesome Love, an education center in Fremont, Ohio. They call forgiveness “a gift of health” that “sets us free to receive love, happiness, joy and peace.” Forgiveness is promoted not only by the Christian churches but by mental health workers. They know that failure to forgive can lead to frustration, pent-up anger, and bitterness which can result in all kinds of health issues—physical, mental, and spiritual.
Settling our unresolved issues can be difficult. But the rewards are many. By asking ourselves why our feelings are hurt and then working to restore our relationship with the person involved, we can learn to forgive them—even when it’s not deserved.
The hard truth is that if we choose to follow Christ, we must forgive. “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26)
Lord, give us the will and strength to forgive our fellow man as You forgave us even though we didn’t deserve it. In Jesus’ name, amen.