Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven
Several times, when talking to people about God, I have realised that they cannot believe that there is a loving God who loves us and cares about us, because they have been deeply hurt by others; their friends, or even family. I knew several theoretical answers to this, but these didn’t not help anyone, because they didn’t help me.
As a child I was very often mocked and teased for all sorts of reasons, mainly by other pupils, but also by my father. As an adult it appeared to have stopped. About nine years after I had decided to follow God, something happened to me that shook me to the core, and my world seemed to collapse. On the one hand, I had always thought that I had developed a thick skin, and on the other I thought that now as a Christian I could forgive others for almost anything they would do to me. However, I found out that there are limits to which one can cope.
It came to pass that two people that were very close to me hurt me deeply. Only one of them ever apologised for what he had done, and after some counselling with our senior Pastor the whole situation was brought before God for reconciliation and healing as we wanted to bury the situation (leave it behind) and go on.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
For several months after that I had terrible nightmares and discovered that it is one thing to say to a person that you forgive him/her, but it is another thing to actually really forgive this person. The Bible is very clear in this point and there are many scriptures like the above that state that my sins are only forgiven if I can forgive what others did to me:
LUKE 6:37 ... forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. The other thing is that if God tells us to deal with certain situations in our life in a certain way, He has good reasons to do so. One can most probably never forget what happened to oneself, but with God it is possible to forgive, no matter how bad it was. God is our healer, but this doesn’t only count for physical conditions, but also for our soul.
...but with God it is possible to forgive...
Over time I discovered that my inability to forgive was like a cancer and it was spreading itself into more and more areas of my life. It ate away my peace and joy, and slowly infected my whole life with bitterness. It had affected my whole family; I could not relax and fully trust anyone any more. Without being able to forgive, I couldn’t see how another person would really forgive me.
All these many little ‘wounds’ in my childhood and the ‘big thing’ as an adult made me into the person I was. I didn’t want to be like this any more. For many years I tried to forgive, but it wouldn’t work until God finally opened my eyes and showed me the effects I had on the lives of others through my own unforgiving attitude.
One day I heard a statement from someone who had just lost his only child in very tragic circumstance: “By forgiving those who sin against us we actually do ourselves a favour (or rather two). First - our life here on earth will be restored and we retain our inner peace and joy. Second - God promised to forgive us our sins, of which we all have plenty”.
It slowly sunk in that I couldn’t change what had happened, but it was in my hands to decide what I do about it in the future. If I held a grudge it would make my life bitter and even affect the lives of those loved ones around me; but if I forgave, my ‘wounds’ will be healed and those around me will no longer suffer. So I decided to trust God and let go. Over the coming months, with the help of some close friends, I discovered more and more how badly my attitude had already affected my relationships, including those with my children. Now I needed their forgiveness and God’s grace to stop this vicious circle and heal the wounds that I had caused in my children, although they were completely ignorant of, and innocent concerning, the bad things that had happened to me.
God loves us and wants to make us whole.
JOHN 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. I can only thank God that through this situation I could learn and understand more of His love towards us, whereby all our sins can be forgiven and we can be saved.