Can We Forgive?

We all have stories of pain and grief. Great hurts that engulf us. Ugly injustices that have ambushed and overthrown us. Persistent, leaden pain. Sometimes, these hurts have been brought into our lives by others. Sometimes it has come at the hands of friends. For others, the agents of hurt have not been known to them. And then sometimes the hurt has come through our own stupidity, lack of judgement, or foolish bravado.

We would like to think that dealing with this pain is as easy as ‘moving on’. Gathering our resolve and getting on with life, not letting these things settle on us. For some, it seems that the pain of life just rolls away like water off a duck’s back. For most, this is not a common experience. Be it rejection, betrayal, abuse, criminal act, or neglect, most carry the hurt for a long time. Maybe for their whole lives. They live with this hurt, as does everyone around them. It impacts on work, relationship, marriage, and pretty much very circle of interaction that we have.

Do you know what to do with all your hurt?

Do you know what to do with all your hurt? Many people do not. Each morning when they roll out of bed, or when they sit with their coffee, or in those moments when the pressure is off, and the mind starts to relax, the pain resurfaces. Like some stray dog, just when you think you have finally gotten rid of it, it returns to dig holes in your garden.

What to do? Is it as easy as managing these situations differently? Should you just fill your life with so much busyness and with so many things to keep the pain away? Is your ticket out of pain and hurt?

Chances are, trying that will leave you doubly bound. You will be stuck in your pain, and bound up in whatever escape you devise, and you will never get out of it.

There is a better way, and that is to forgive.

I know: forgiveness is not well understood. It seems such a slippery thing, and we wonder whether it’s all a bit too easy. Either that, or it seems too hard to do. But here’s the thing, God calls us into it. More: in Jesus he both models and empowers forgiveness.

If it’s true that the pain you carry changed your life, then it’s also true that they way you forgive will change your life even more.

Come with me on a journey, and let’s see how we can do this work of forgiving better.

What do you think is hardest about forgiveness?

9 thoughts on “Can We Forgive?

  1. Thanks Dave, you have uncovered a great truth – worth a lot of consideration. One of the most difficult things I find with forgiveness is acknowledging honestly my part in what has caused the situation to arise.
    Blessings,Geoff H

  2. That’s right, Geoff. While some painful occasions and events happen through no fault of our own, it’s also true that often we have contributed to many of the painful experiences we encounter. And so, forgiveness needs to be multidirectional. I need to forgive ‘them’, and I need to forgive ‘me’ as well. And my guess is that it may be harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive another. But that’s another post…

    Bless you, mate.

  3. A colleague of mine went as a peace keeper to Cyprus. He described the people of that island, both the Turks and the Greeks as lovely, lovely people. And yet, put them together and their hatred was deadly, doomed to continuation for generations.

    And yet I recall seeing a video interview with a pastor whose two grand children were murdered at Port Arthur. He took the interviewer to the very place the gunman had hunted them to. He had been to see Martin Bryant in prison, and chosen to forgive him even though Bryant was indifferent. Somehow the pastor had found peace anyway.

    Surely to learn how to forgive is a pearl of great price we must seek out. The consequence of not doing so are personally devastating.

  4. We forgive not just to release other who have done us wrong.
    We do so to release us from the bondage of anger and hate so that we can be set free.

  5. Dear Dave, The war has brought lots of hurts and pain. I have seen a lot and what it did to people. There is only one way to release that hurt and hatred. Only Christ can show us that way to do it. Not easy but it does work eventually. To God be the glory.

  6. So true Dave! For me forgiveness comes easy, not saying that I don’t struggle to forgive, but there are a few things that I think of when someone has wronged me, and it comes down to remembering what Jesus has done for me. He has forgiven me for sinning against him
    And doing so much worse then anyone could against me. So I have no right to not forgive someone, seeing that God has forgive me on account of Christ. Plus not forgiving leaves bitterness in the heart and can then spread like a disease creeping into every aspect of life. But remembering what God has done and forgiven us for sinning against him every second, forgiveness should then flow out of us for other people who have wronged us.

  7. Thanks Dave, love the blog and everyones comments. For me the hardest thing about forgiveness was understanding what it meant.

    I think that the greater the trust you have in someone, then the greater the potential for hurt when they deliberately do something(s) wrong. Of course that’s in proportion with the consequences of their actions that caused the hurt. Although there are no excuses, we have to forgive.

    I’ve come to understand that forgiveness is a genuine decision to forgive and that my feelings don’t need to initially correlate with my decision. So long as I have a pure heart, then my feelings with eventually come in line with my intentional decision to forgive.

    You’re so right when you alluded to someone who wakes up in the morning, relaxes their mind and suddenly negative thoughts fill their head. Isn’t it amazing how we don’t have to try hard for this to happen? I think a passive christian will always live a life of destruction. We need to be intentional and purposeful about what we’re thinking and talking about, especially when it comes to issues of forgiveness.

    It helped me to understand that forgiveness isn’t dependant upon what other people do or don’t do. I mean, I can forgive regardless whether the person who has hurt me fails to apologise or bring any truth to the situation. Jesus tells me to forgive and He therefore enables me to forgive!

  8. My biggest conflict is knowing if you have forgiven someone or not. How can you tell, if you have made the cognitive step as far as a decision goes, but still have paralyzing emotions surrounding it? Is forgiveness a process? Can you think you have forgiven someone when you actually haven’t? If it is an ongoing daily situation, it makes it even more complicated!

  9. If you forgive the person who has offended you, the person who is free is you.
    John 20:23 ” If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone they are retained ” ( by me or you). Forgiveness is a choice and the way to freedom.
    Blessings to you Dave and Leonie,
    Liz F

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