And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mark 11:25 KJV
God forgave us and asked us to forgive others. Sounds good, but when we face it in our lives, we can’t believe how hard it is.
Real life examples show us forgiveness in action; community forgiveness of the man who killed children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Monty Williams eulogy for his wife, asking prayer for the family of the woman who plowed his loved one down with her car, a father who lost his daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing hugging the father of Timothy McVeigh, the bomber. Against these, my wrongs seem insignificant, and yet, I discovered forgiveness didn’t come easily or quickly when a friend betrayed us and caused us financial harm.
Thinking back of this time, a man became more than just a boss. He was a friend, or so I thought. He owned a retail business that was floundering. My husband had worked in retail for years at every level of management. He longed to invest our small nest egg as well as his time and sweat into a business of his own.
They formed a partnership. Our friend offered his lawyer’s services to write up a contract for them both to sign. Our mistake came in signing it with trust. Without a blow by blow, let me just say that when our friend turned on us, his lawyer’s contract backed him up, not us.
Since he’d been my friend, first, I felt a personal betrayal as well as my hurt due to my husband’s disappointment. For over a year, if I ran into the man, I couldn’t look him in the eye. Oh, I know, Christians must forgive, and I prayed daily for the ability. I really did, but then something else would happen, and my back naturally stiffened, and I relived all the hurt. Again and again, I prayed for God’s healing of the ire that churned my heart and mind.
One night, I entered a party thrown by a mutual friend. There stood my nemesis. He opened his arms as if to hug me. I stepped into his embrace and told him it was good to see him. That statement was true. God had healed me. I suffered no more anger from that time forward. Praise God. Only through His love, is that possible. Not through anything I did.
“Forgiveness, we discover, is always harder than the sermons make it out to be.”
Elizabeth O’Conner, a preacher’s wife
Another time, a member of my church hurt my daughter and son-in-law, finally contributing to my son-in-law accepting a job four hours away. Anger flared in me like a raging fire that couldn’t be stamped out. I prayed for relief. I ignored the couple. I continued to serve God.
For several months every time, I went to the altar to pray, I would turn around to find one of these two behind me. One night, the preacher said to pray for the one behind you. Well, you know who that was. When I prayed for the woman, my heart recovered.
I’m reading a special book, titled Forgiveness: Overcoming the Impossible by Matthew West. It’s filled with inspiring, true life stories of impossible forgiveness and release.
If you don’t need it now, you will soon. I highly recommend it to keep in your library. I know I must.
People are not without fault. Some do terrible things to other people. Sometimes, I’m the one in need of forgiveness because I speak from anger or fail to keep a promise. Whether it’s an unkind word or a murder, you must forgive, or whether it’s a recent event or childhood abuse, Jesus is our only answer to show the kind of love and grace He extended to us when He died on the cross.