“My friends do not punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with His anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them, says the Lord.” (1)
When you have been grievously offended it is better to let God take care of the offense than take revenge. Then how do you come to terms with forgiveness? Forgiveness is a decisive attitude, although not an easy task. It is a deliberate choice to release bad feelings towards a person who has wronged you whether they deserve your forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is a continual process; it usually isn’t immediate, for it takes years to learn how to forgive with all its complexity.
As I sifted through the pain and anguish of my son’s sudden death, I had to learn to wait on God, by depending on Him to change my heart and teach me how to forgive. In recent years, I’ve just come to grips with true forgiveness. I remember in my early stage of bereavement a friend made an insensitive remark to me about forgiveness that caused intense grief. She said, “Kim, of all people, you being a Christian, I would think you would be the first to forgive.” My life was spinning out of control because someone chose to commit this evil act. I didn’t want to forgive, he didn’t deserve my forgiveness. I hated the criminal who took my son’s life. I was so seeped in grief I hadn’t had time to sort out forgiveness. Her comment stunned me! Through tears I wanted to scream, “My son, who was dearly loved and cherished, was taken from me and my family. We all were feeling the pain of loss and missed him so much. I felt she’d made light of murder, glossing over it by minimizing its effects as if the criminal’s consequences would be erased. In unspoken words I said, “It’s not okay! Michael’s been murdered and I will never forget what this criminal did, nor will I make an excuse for evil” after all, won’t the perpetrator be accountable for killing my son? Wasn’t he responsible for his actions in choosing to do this heinous act? Murder is a very serious act. God ordained it’s seriousness by established the Sixth Commandment “Thou shall not kill.” (2) God takes sin seriously and so ought we! Perhaps God allowed her comment to teach me about the reality of genuine forgiveness and how God could empower me to do this, He only needed a willing spirit. Nevertheless, all my emotions were real and true facts, Mike was loved and missed, and his loss is huge. Minimizing or glossing over murder or evil is a miscalculation that is not excused, denied or forgotten. Forgiveness never alleviates responsibility. Sin has serious ramifications and the consequences are real. Very real! God has given each person individual responsibility to be accountable to live rightly before Him. There is a “day of reckoning” where we will all stand before the great judge. (3)
I was never granted permission to withhold forgiveness, or make that person pay for his offenses. But I was given a choice in what kind of attitude I will have towards forgiveness. I had an option to choose to give my pain to the Lord, by allowing Him to give me the power to forgive. Or I could choose to wallow in my pain. I have decided to follow God. When I made the first steps towards forgiveness, I acknowledged to God my inability to forgive without His help. As I began to take small steps towards forgiveness, God met me to help me through. Forgiveness is hard work! It has taken the past ten years. When I consider the offender, and his eternal destiny I see it is hopeless. I realize he is locked up spiritually and emotionally, but I live in freedom. He is made in God’s image but has no reflection of the light of glory because his image is stained by murder. He was designed to live for Christ but has no living spirit inside – he remains spiritually dead. He has the capacity to have a relationship with God – but has none. He is spiritually bankrupt. I admit there is tension in forgiving the man who murdered my son. I struggle! My reasoning opposes to it yet God is calling me to maturity. To mature I need to grow and to grow I need to be faithful to what God is calling me to do. God is providing a way through all the complexities of my pain and the way through is to forgive. I forgive! I pray that he will find salvation and a Savior who forgives and loves him. If Jesus forgave us and left us an example why can’t we forgive as He has commanded us to do?
God’s design for our well-being is perfect! It was after I forgave God healed me. Then my grief ended, and I was set free. I’ve learned to follow God and trust in His mighty power to forgive. Although it is not easy to forgive, I am thankful God has taken me this far. The moment we forget God’s goodness, Satan tries to convince us that God is mean and uncaring. He tells us God is not for us, but impersonal, unsympathetic, and disinterested. This is far from the truth for this foe speaks lies. Our God cares immensely for us! He sets His boundaries of love over us for our protection. In His love He asks of us to forgive as He did, for our healing. Every opportunity can be used to magnify the riches of pardoning mercy, just as God does so willingly with us.
Holy Father, I ask for You to come and teach me to see through Your merciful eyes that are quicker to forgive than my eyes to pardon. Teach me more about Your compassion and love that covers all offenses and heal my brokenness. Amen
1. Romans 12:19 ncv
2. Exodus 20:13 kjv
3. Matt 12:36 nas