Monday, July 18, 2016

The Freedom of Forgiveness

And when you stand to pray, if you hold anything against another, forgive it, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your trespasses as well."  ~Mark 11:25

Forgiving can be such a hard thing to do. When someone has betrayed you, hurt you to your core, how do you just forgive them? Isn't that letting them off easy? How could they deserve your forgiveness? What if they aren't sorry, or don't even see what they did wrong? How on earth can you forgive someone like that?

There was a time when I had those thoughts. I had been betrayed by someone very close to me, in ways that were unimaginable. I didn't understand how I could forgive something that had such a profound impact on my life. But I had the wrong ideas about forgiveness....

Forgiveness is not the same thing as pardon. You are not excusing the other person for what they did. What you are doing, is letting go of the anger and bitterness, and cutting the chains to the past. You are freeing yourself of the effects of what happened and giving yourself a chance to heal and move on. 

It's so easy to think that there are things we shouldn't forgive. When I read the Bible and realize the way my God forgives you and me and all of us every day for our sins, it makes me think twice. 

When I hear stories, like Corrie Ten Boom's story from World War II, where she and her sister were put into a concentration camp because they were caught hiding Jews, it really makes me think.  She watched as they killed her sister. Corrie miraculously escaped only days later and ran into a soldier who was directly part of the atrocities there. She forgave him. That is hard to imagine. You can read more about her story of forgiveness here.

Forgiveness is always possible, maybe not in our flesh, but with God, as He can forgive through us and in us. I experienced this and it is freeing in a way that is beyond description. It also removes a wall that we create between us and God. We are being disobedient when we don't forgive. When we continue to be disobedient our hearts harden.

If you harbor a grudge, if you have bitterness in your heart, don't you think it's time to let it go? It will eat you from the inside out if you don't. God will help you to do it if you just ask. Forgiveness, contrary to what many believe, is not done for the other person but for yourself. It is the best gift you can give yourself. For me, it was like a huge weight was lifted off me, one that had been there for a long time. 

I pray for each one of you who is dealing with this issue, that you will seek to forgive with God's assistance, and experience the freedom and joy that it brings. I pray that you can fill the room it leaves with good things, that will restore peace and bring joy.