Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

During our stint in podcasting, my daughter and I recorded an episode entitled “Generous Forgiveness.” The episode was well-received. I felt good about it and thought that was that and…then it happened. An offense was committed and boy, was I hurt! And then my struggle began.

God reminded me, here is your big chance, Anne. Now you can put my truth into action. Isn’t this how God operates? He says, “Now that you have told others how to deal with unforgiveness, I want to refine you as well.” But it hurt. I was wounded. I don’t think it was an “on purpose” or “planned” offense, but it was painful. The kind of wound that stings a whole lot.

So, there I stood, holding some uncomfortable pain and thinking, it sure is easier to talk about generous forgiveness than to practice it.  The thought kept coming, how am I going to extend that generous forgiveness Jesus talked about?  You know, the kind of forgiveness that overlooks a hurt 70 times 7?   

Usually, I have a short memory of offenses.  Forgiveness has always been relatively easy for me.   Especially when the wrong is not significant.  However, when my hurt multiplies, my ability to forgive seems to shrink.  At times like this, generous isn’t a word I want to connect to forgiveness.  Maybe you are thinking, “Girl, I am right there with you on this!  I am struggling with some big hurts.”  So, if this is true of you, let me say I am sorry.  I am sorry that you have been hurt.  I am sorry you have felt pain.  I am sorry this blog post is even relevant to your life. But here we are, now what do we do?

We must consider several things as we think about holding on to unforgiveness.  

The first is “easy as pie” to say and hard to do.  We must forgive since Jesus told us to.  Not only did he ask us to, but he tied the way we forgive to his forgiveness of us.  Often, we hear counselors say, “don’t forgive too early; you must walk through the pain first.”  But I have found that no matter how painful the hurt is, I will not heal until I offer up forgiveness.  

The second thing to remember is the terrible damage unforgiveness produces for the grudge holder.  Although I know better, it is easy to think that revenge is sweeter than forgiveness.  But holding onto hurt becomes bitterness.   Bitterness hurts the holder of it the most.  And Bitterness leads to rage, anger, harsh words…  

Bitterness is like a continually running machine that uses our bodies for its energy source. It runs when we are sleeping, it runs when we are talking with our friends, and it runs when we are simply sitting and being quiet. Because bitterness is a lifestyle and not an isolated occurrence, it never shuts down. It keeps operating and draining energy.

Charles Stanley

The third thing is that only God has what it takes to help us forgive.  Whether a small hurt or a deep, gaping, festering wound, God is the one who makes forgiveness imaginable.  His indwelling Spirit in our lives is the healing balm needed to make forgiveness possible.  We must remember that a river of life flows out of us!

And lastly, putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes for a short while helps us understand more about what happened.  This certainly does not excuse the offense or encourage a repeat performance, but empathy is a vital tool for forgiving.

Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, is willing to help us with this task.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He blesses those who heed his word and obey his directive to forgive. Forgiveness is God’s idea! And true forgiveness brings healing to the wounded.

Who is God putting on your heart to forgive?

Hey Friend- if you are looking for more devotional material, why not try my 11-Day plan on the YOUVERSION app. Completed by over 10,000 people. You can find it at https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/20868-pack-your-baggage-honey.

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