“Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.”Col 3:13
Rolling over and opening my eyes again for the umpteenth time, I checked the time. It was one o’clock in the morning and I hadn’t slept a wink yet. Tossing and turning, thoughts impeded my mind and made it hard for me to turn them off as they came rushing in like pounding waves of the ocean. It was futile to attempt to block them out long enough for me to fall asleep.
Exhausted and weary, I got up and slipped out of my room and into the living room where I could sit up and pray without disturbing my husband. There, in the quiet of the room, with the warm lights of the Christmas tree still glowing, I reached out for a helping hand from the Lord.
I prayed and waited for a response. A few minutes later, the thoughts came back to me again. Thoughts of a past relationship that did not end well. And then I distinctly heard in my heart the words I did not want to hear: “You have to forgive them and move on.”
Forgiveness is not my strongest fruit.
Besides, this was different, I argued. This friend had sinned against my family member, and I held tightly to what I thought was my “righteous” grip on the anger and unforgiveness until I could not fall asleep peacefully.
Just like the Lord does, He asked me a question, giving me something to think about. “Who are you to withhold forgiveness?”
Well, when He put it that way, it was a losing fight to argue with the Lord.
We know that it is easier said than accomplished, to forgive someone who causes such hurt and pain. We feel as if we do not matter if the sin against us goes unpunished.
When we withhold forgiveness, we are not helping ourselves to heal from the pain and hurt, which is ultimately what we need. We are instead holding onto the pain and hurt and the longer we hold onto it, the more pain and hurt it will cause.
Paul’s instruction on forgiveness in his letter to the Colossians was hard to hear but necessary for healing. He reminds us that Christ forgave us, so we also need to learn to forgive those who have wronged us. Just as Christ suffered silently on the cross, taking on all sin, so also are we to forgive in such a way that will ultimately make no sense and maybe even hurt us a little.
Forgiveness is not about the person we are forgiving; it is about Jesus. Forgiveness does not say that what that person did to us did not matter. Forgiveness says that what matters most is freedom in Christ. Forgiveness is the first step in the process of healing. When we forgive, we take back our hearts and minds from the wrong they did to us, and we find peace.
Father, as we prepare our hearts and minds to live for you, we pray that you would stir our hearts toward forgiveness. We know that forgiveness is hard, but you have led the way for us to follow you. Show us the way to a forgiving nature and help us to let go so we can live abundantly in the life you have prepared for us. In your perfect peace, we pray. Amen