Is It Impossible to Forgive?
- Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Ever feel that it is impossible to forgive? I have. I have been so full of anger and bitterness that I have had a very difficult time figuring out just how I can forgive and move on to that opposite extreme of loving those who've hurt me. I'm sure you've gone through it at some time or another in your life, too.
You are probably familiar with one or more of these scenarios - the relative who spoke evil of you or your homeschooling, that friend you had for years who said or did something very hurtful, or worse, has turned their back on you; you've been falsely accused and now find yourself ostracized.
Maybe it's as simple as harboring bitterness because your husband has not been more helpful with the school load you are carrying. I have walked through each one of these scenarios and do you know what I have learned? On my own, forgiveness isn't easy, it's impossible!
I am so glad that God is the God of the impossible. It's actually something He specializes in. I have been bitter, angry, depressed, and CONSUMED with all manner of imaginary (and rather ungodly) conversations I want to have and all manner of justifications for all of my bad attitudes. I have been anything but saintly. How can we react the seemingly impossible way and respond lovingly to those who have hurt us? Here are some areas to consider:
From Hurt to Hate to Healing
Whenever I am angry, I can usually find the root cause to be hurt. So, look at your feelings honestly and determine if you have been hurt. Now, you have a choice to make. Will you allow the hurt to turn to hate, or will you allow your heart to be healed? If we find ourselves full of anger and bitterness, we must repent. We do not want to be seen as a bitter force to be reckoned with, rather, we want to be seen as those who represent Christ. I have found that crying out to the Lord helps hasten the time between hurt and healing. As we pour out our hearts to the Lord, we start to recognize and confess our own sin and then can begin to intercede for our enemies.
"My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You." Psalms 25:15-21
Ready to Forgive
Okay, so we cry out to the Lord. Now what? In my own life, I am praying always that I would become more like my Father. He is always good and always ready to forgive. He desires a heart that is ready to forgive. Being ready to forgive is an important key here. We may never hear these words, "please forgive me" from the person who has hurt us, but we can have a heart that is always ready to forgive and abundant in mercy at all times. We can only be full of those things if we are full of Him who Is all those things!
"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me." Psalms 86:5-7
Love Them or Leave Them?
There are times when we would just rather run or hide from those who hurt us. (Sometimes this is the wise thing to do until we can get ourselves back under God's control.) Ultimately, the goal is to go from wanting to leave them to loving them. A man who was tortured in a communist prison was once asked, "What do we tell the person who feels like they can't forgive?" His answer was simple yet profound, "If they can't forgive, tell them to make a cake." In other words, don't wait for your feelings to catch up with your actions. Start loving. Make that cake. The actions may or may not bring on the feelings, but in loving our enemies and doing good - hoping for nothing in return, we become true sons of our Father.
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