“Our father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That verse struck a chord in my heart as I made way to the department cafeteria. I have to forgive. I have to forgive someone that has wronged me, hurt me, insulted, degraded and humiliated me. I have to.
You see, forgiveness is not for the weak. Forgiveness takes strength. It requires a super natural strength, the kind that only comes from above. The kind that calls you to pray for your enemies and love them as they are.
I was asked for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me from whom. My human nature fought against the will of God. This was an enemy the pain spoke. This is someone who hurt you and changed your core. An individual that wanted you to suffer, to feel weak and belittled and pathetic. Someone who played a vital role by involvement that would have an effect on the trajectory of your life and the life of your children.
Don’t forgive. Just ignore. Just stay focused, just keep doing you.
But wait, the Lord, your God and savior brought this person to you, to your feet in all grace and humility to ask you to forgive them. At first the truth convicted me that God sees all, knows all and redeems all. But proudly I promoted ” I will remember and recover not forgive and forget”. ” Weak people revenge, strong people forgive, intelligent people ignore”. I would remember and recover and be intelligent and ignore.
God then convicted me. The worldly voice making those remarks did not come from God but rather from the Devil himself. Upon conviction God spoke to me and obediently I listened. “Who am I to deny forgiveness to someone?” “Who am I to think someone is not worthy of my forgiveness?” “Who am I when I myself wronged the gesture by seeking and promoting those quotes?” “Who am I?” Forgiveness is not easy. But no one ever said following Christ would be. If I, myself seek God’s forgiveness then I must be willing to forgive most especially someone who recognizes the need to ask for my forgiveness. Immediately I became ashamed of my initial reaction and my heart grieved but this lesson taught me that we are all in need of forgiveness and should never deny anyone forgiveness no matter how challenging it may be or how long it will take.
Does forgiveness mean their offenses are forgotten? That what they said and did suddenly doesn’t matter? No. But it means I will no longer hold this over you. I will no longer hold the offense and anger and hurt. I will give it to God and let Him deal with it but I will wipe the offense for myself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgotten. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation, though in particular cases it could. It doesn’t mean it never happened or that you are okay with what the offense or offenses were. But it does mean letting the hatred go and understanding that we are all imperfect and that the battles we fight are not against flesh but against spiritual principalities.
Asking for forgiveness takes courage and humility. Granting forgiveness takes strength and faith. And so I pictured myself asking God for forgiveness and God saying ” I will remember and recover not forgive and forget” or saying ” I am intelligent and will ignore”. Jamás! (Never) Our God would never leave us on the side being torn seeking Him and Him refusing us. Never.
And so while forgiveness is a process and takes time we start by acknowledging that we are all in need of forgiveness, that none of us are perfect and we start by making a decision. The decision to forgive. Then we pray and ask God to be God and to do the good work he began and to lead us in the process to forgive.
And we pause. We pause and we pray and we give it to God and let God be God.