Today I am looking at a friendship bracelet made for me by someone who suffered horrendously for years at the hands of another person. She gave a bracelet to myself and one to my wife Morag. Mine has just been restrung due to loss of muscle mass associated with my illness and its treatment and the side effects of both: fresh on today, it caught my eye and attention. When they were first given to us, these bracelets were a sign that after meeting with her quite a few times pastorally this person was beginning to trust us – actually she literally did not believe she was a person when we first met, so deep was the damage done to her.
I am thinking of the challenge/command/need to forgive those who have wronged us. Sooner or later as followers of Christ most of us have to face up to the issue of forgiving someone who has wronged us, perhaps wronged us personally or wronged those we love. It is an issue of obedience, part of following a Saviour crucified for us. However let’s not talk about forgiveness in a trite and insensitive way or in harsh, demanding or legalistic tones. To do so is to increase the abuse…
…and something else is on my mind now that I think of it. The fact that you forgive totally from the heart does not mean the wrong done to you does not continue to hurt.
…. and something else…the fact that you forgive someone does not mean that your relationship with them is unaltered by the wrong they did to you or your loved ones. “To continue the relationship unaltered” may be the devil’s way of making you think that forgiveness is an impossible, cruel and unreasonable demand; such a misunderstanding holds many back from the freedom that a true offering of genuine forgiveness really brings.
….and something else…to press the point of that last paragraph a bit more…I think God wants someone who reads this to stop being tortured by a misunderstanding of forgiveness. You need to be sure what God is requiring of you by His grace and be equally sure of what He is not demanding of you.
….and as I said often when preaching, “finally, finally”…true forgiveness from the heart is one of the most difficult things you may ever have to do. Remember though, that when Jesus is resident in you by the Holy Spirit, His commands become possibilities; an invitation out of captivity into life in all its fullness; a promise of what can be; an offer of His help. You may even find when you forgive from the heart your physical health not to mention your emotional, mental and spiritual health will improve. It is not unknown in my experience as a minister to see someone forgiving a wrong and being healed instantaneously the very next second.
God bless you