I wanted to write about something light and sweet today, but felt as though God placed the topic of “forgiveness” on my heart. Nothing can gnaw at a person’s soul and happiness more than anger and resentment. Sometimes, when a person hurts you so badly, it is impossible to forgive them in your own human weakness. I’ve experienced this personally. Someone hurt me so badly, so indelibly, that my life was changed forever. Fear, anger, shame and sadness set in, and shrouded my world for years.
I heard the passages about forgiveness in the bible preached on Sunday. I prayed the words, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” Still I couldn’t truly forgive.
When forgiveness is beyond our capabilities, we can ask for help from one who is All Powerful, All Justice, All Mercy… Jesus Himself said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 I may not be able to do a thing so difficult alone, but, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Today’s gospel reading ended with a bang – “Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 We are surely not going to attain this perfection while on this earth, but we must try, with God’s help, to become more Christ-like with each passing day. This includes being merciful to others.
I can tell you that when I surrendered to God and told Him, ” I want to forgive, but it is too hard for me. I’ve been hurt too badly. I surely cannot forget. Please help me, God. Help me to forgive.” It happened. Not instantaneously, but over time. One day, after watching Sondra Abraham’s testimony of her visions of heaven, hell and purgatory, it occurred to me that in God’s mercy, my abuser may have spent the last 30 years in the depths of purgatory. He may have been awaiting my prayers, my forgiveness to finally see the face of God. I began to turn from hating this man to wanting God’s love to heal him – just the change in attitude and perspective was a miracle in itself!
People only hurt because they have been hurt. Babies aren’t born evil. People go wrong when things/people in their environment harm or deprive them physically or mentally. Without love, one cannot learn how to love. This world is in the mess it is in for lack of self-giving love.
I can only attest to my own experience. I have not forgotten the unhappy events of my childhood. For better or worse, they have made me who I am. Once I was able to begin to pray for the one who harmed me, there was Freedom. I have a peace and a joy inside that no one can take – no situation break. God helped me to forgive when I simply could not. He has set me free.
I wish the same for all people. If we want mercy when we meet God face to face, we must show others mercy. If there is someone who you are having difficulty forgiving, surrender that to God. Plead for His help. Then, begin to pray for that person daily. Be prepared for a miracle! I have no doubt that the God of Mercy will give you the priceless gift of His peace!
Here’s a very powerful, short video on forgiveness. It’s features the last journal entry from one of the kids killed in the Virginia Tech shootings. It’s quite moving!