Do you find it hard to forgive? I do, especially when the transgression against me (in my opinion) justifies my unforgiveness. I’m not talking about petty infractions that are a nuisance in our relationships, but deep hurts that keep you up at night.
I recognize that my capacity to forgive with my own will or strength of character is severely limited. In fact, it may even be impossible in some situations. I find myself praying a lot about forgiveness, what it means, how to do it and desiring to be the person God has called me to be.
I know that being a Christian requires the act of forgiveness. We are called to forgive others because Christ first forgave us! I know I do not deserve God’s forgiveness, I didn’t deserve His sacrificial act of suffering and dying on the cross for my sins. Romans 5:8 tells me that, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just understanding that should make it simple for me to extend that grace to someone else. Unfortunately I still struggle with it.
Recently I was praying and asking God to give me strength to forgive and just really digging in deep with God and asking Him to help me in this area. As I prayed I felt God ask me a very direct question. “But do you WANT to forgive?” Such an obvious question really, but as I let the question burrow deep down into my heart and soul, I knew the answer was no.
Have you ever battled with depression or times in your life, possibly because of negative circumstances, when you just feel like you will never break through to a better place emotionally? I’ve been there. Dark places that feel as if it will take too much emotional effort to escape, the feelings of complete emotional exhaustion. I’ve felt that the pain and sadness start to feel normal, an unwanted companion that I can’t break free from, so I just let it settle in.
Forgiveness takes work. I don’t want to do the work. I don’t want the person that hurt me to have license to do it again, or to feel as if I’ve excused the hurtful act and I’m ok with it. I found myself in a deep cavern of unforgiveness with no desire to claw my way out, it was simply too much work. My immature view of forgiveness hinders my ability to put others before myself. It truly limits my effectiveness as a Christian.
So my prayer changed. My prayer turned to asking God to help me WANT to forgive. No matter how long the process will take or how difficult the journey will be, I desire to have grace and forgiveness for others. I WANT to see God restore relationships, to resolve division, and provide avenues of healing to begin in my heart as well as those I love. For me, I know that I NEED forgiveness. I am a terrible sinner that is only saved by God’s grace. My desire is to be the women God wants me to be and I know that is impossible if I cannot forgive.
The only way to achieve forgiveness is to ask Christ for His help, I need His strength. I want a heart that is full of love and a desire to serve others. To see people the way Christ sees them. I’m no better than anyone else, we all need the grace and forgiveness that Christ died on the cross to provide for us. My prayer today is that God will forgive me and work on MY heart so that I will WANT to forgive.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.