There Is Power in Forgiveness
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32-33
In our lives we experience situations that leave bitterness in our hearts. Perhaps a loved one was killed, or abused, or wronged in some way. Or perhaps a wrong was done personally to us. We can be wronged in friendships, relationships, and by complete strangers. We can probably think of several times when something occurred in our lives that left us feeling terribly angry or hurt. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” This means that God’s grace has been given to everyone, including those who hurt us. Luke 6:28 says, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” As if the healing process was not hard enough, now we are commanded to pray for those who have mistreated us. Where to begin? First, we know that we need Christ in everything we do. It is in Him that we have faith, hope, and love. We have faith in the one true God who gives us grace and forgiveness. He gives us hope by which we know one day life will not have hurt and bitterness. And He loves us, so much that He suffered and died for our salvation, and He encourages us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is incredible to think how much we sin and hurt God every day, yet He forgives us and loves us. Prayer is a good place to begin. We are not alone. Christ is with us, and He hears every prayer. He hears us when we cry for help, when we are struggling, and when we are afraid to let go. Holding on to those bitter feelings only keeps us feeling bitter, and where is the peace in that? Forgiving is not forgetting. It does not exempt the broken trust, nor does it repair the relationship. But it gives the hurt and broken feelings over to God, which then allows us to be at peace instead of harboring bitterness. Louis B. Smedes, the author of The Art of Forgiveness, said, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” The weight of the hurt can be lifted, and we can feel peace and hope. The chains of that bitterness can set our hearts free, and allow us to have compassion as Jesus tells us to. Smedes also said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Christ set us free from sin when He went to the cross and poured out His grace and forgiveness. We are able to set others, as well as ourselves, free from the hurt in our hearts when we forgive. God gives us faith, hope, and love, which we are able to spread once our hearts are free from bitterness.
Lord God, it is tough when we struggle with the pain in our heart from others and ourselves. Help us to forgive one another as You have forgiven us. Help us to pray for and love those who have hurt us. Amen