Perhaps one of the most difficult journeys we face in life is the journey of forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not come natural or easy. The need to forgive occurs when we have been hurt. The longer the hurt and the deeper the pain the longer the time will take to forgive. Make sure there is a legitimate need to forgive.
Sometimes we are just too sensitive and take offense at everything. We can live with our “emotional radar” up just looking and waiting for someone to offend us. We have to grow beyond this.
Forgiveness occurs when we have been truly hurt, betrayed or brutalized. Forgiveness is a process. It is a journey. Rarely does it happen at all at once. The struggle will often resurface when something happens that brings back a painful memory. Our refusal to forgive is due to several thought patterns.
We believe we have a right to our anger and lack of forgiveness. We have become pain focused and will not let go of it. We have too much pride to forgive.
Our anger and resentment have become some of the most important aspects of our lives. We actually cherish it. It is part of our identity.
There is an old adage, “Our refusal to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Forgiving is a hard act to pull off yet it is essential to life, relationships and a walk with the Lord.
When asked by his disciples how to pray one of the petitions Jesus gives is: “ … and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6: 12)
Jesus makes our own forgiveness dependent on us forgiving others. He goes on to reiterate this in verses 14 and 15 of the same chapter. In Matthew 18: 21-35 one of Jesus’ disciples comes to him and asks how often he should forgive someone who is close to him. These are the folks who have the power to hurt us the most. Jesus’ response is 77 times. We have to journey through life with forgiveness as our close friend. How do we forgive like Jesus is telling us we should?
Here are some ideas: Focus on forgiving not on anger and resentment. Don’t keep bringing the issue up over and over in your mind. It only leads to more bondage. The offender usually moves on with their life, and we stay stuck in our resentment and hurt.
Ask for the Lord to help. He knows how to forgive. He will teach and empower us to forgive. Give the anger, resentment and sense of unfairness over to the Lord and leave it with Him. Ask the Lord to help you begin to pray for the person who has hurt you. This brings surprising healing to us.
Realize that forgiveness is a journey. Be patient and stay at it.
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