Reasons We Struggle To Forgive

I've been thinking lately on forgiveness and why in the world we struggle so much to offer it. While I know there are probably lots of reasons we hold onto those hurts, I can look back at my own life thus far and say there are some excuses (yes, excuses) that seem to pop up in my own life ever time I struggle to forgive.

I am always wanting answers to the why, even though there may not always be an answer. I think the why might be one reason we struggle so to forgive. "Why did you do it?" That is the big question we usually want answered when someone offends us. Sometimes the offense is deep and so painful and we just don't understand how someone could do that to us. Will you really ever get an answer to the why? Will it hurt less if you get an answer to the why? If we wait for the answers to why someone hurt us, we will be waiting forever. There is no justifiable reason for why we sin. We do it because we are weak and incapable...except for Jesus. If we think we will have more desire to forgive when we get an answer to the "why" we are wrong. That's the miracle of forgiveness. It doesn't wait for justification.
When we don't understand the pain, the offense, we can look to Jesus and follow his lead. Remember, he doesn't ask you to do something he didn't do himself. Forgiveness comes through the power of Jesus inside of us. If you are struggling to forgive and you haven't invited him in to that struggle, well, you are fighting alone...and you can't do this alone. That's the beauty of forgiveness. It involves relationship.

I think another reason we wrestle with forgiveness is that, in the offense, we feel we have been robbed of something. Someone robbed you of your..what? They owe you...what? If you are carrying an offense, you know what your "what" is. The question I have to ask myself when I reach the crossroads of forgiving or not forgiving is: will I really get anything back by holding my grudge? Can the clock be rewound? Can the offense be erased? No. Will the offense be erased if I do choose to forgive? No. Did Jesus erase man's fatal mistake? No.

He forgave it.

Forgiving does not equal payment for a debt...it means the cancellation of a debt. Tough to swallow? Yes, I know it is. I faced this same quandary, and still do sometimes. Jesus recognized our debt, he called it out, but he cancelled the payment demanded for it. He cancelled our payment for our debt against God.

The fact is, we treat each other unjustly. The fact is, we let our helpless humanity peak out more often than we would like. The fact is, our itemized list of offenses is only going to grow over a lifetime. There will always be a wrong done, a sin committed. The question you must ask yourself is this: can you cancel payment for the offense committed against you?

Believe me, I get this struggle. My flesh is very weak, angry, bitter and calloused. My flesh wants to nurse my grudges, my wounds. It is the spirit of God inside of me, though, that draws me toward forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is very much a choice. When I forgive, I am choosing to crucify my flesh, to deny myself...just like Jesus did. When I choose to forgive, I am choosing relationship over isolation. I cannot be all God wants me to be if my heart has bitter edges to it.

One common excuse for not forgiving is that the person who caused offense doesn't deserve forgiveness. Maybe you know for sure that they will laugh in your face, or maybe they will write you off as ridiculous. I get that. I've been in that place. I offered forgiveness to the one person who had wounded me the most...and he didn't want my forgiveness. In fact, he cut me out of his life. Yes, that's right. He closed the door to any kind of communication with me. But, you know what? It didn't matter how he received it. God had already healed my wounds, already given me peace. I had already submitted my flesh to God's spirit at work in me...so the response I got didn't change my decision. That, my friend, is the power of the cross at work in my life.

Forgiveness is a decision. Choosing to forgive is the foremost evidence of the power of Christ's cross. "Forgive as I forgive," Jesus says. "Forgive, over and over again," he says. In other words, forgive, even when it's too hard. Nothing is impossible with Jesus. Surrender to him because, well, at the end of the day, we are called to extend to each other exactly what Jesus extended to us. I know sometimes it seems to impossible. In those moments, we can cling, and I mean cling, to the cross and Jesus will be what we cannot be. Jesus will fill us with the mercy and grace we cannot offer on our own. Invite him into your struggle. Don't be ashamed of your bitterness. Jesus understands. He knows you cannot choose forgiveness without his help...and he wants to help you. He wants to show you just how powerful his love is and just how healing it is. He will be all that you cannot. He will fill you with the power of forgiveness.

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you." 
  Ephesians 4:32

Comments

  1. Seriously??!! You had to write this right now when I am sitting here so angry with someone!!?? This is what I LOVE about you Shannon!! You have the ability to cut to the chase with your words. They are hard to hear sometimes, but they are ALWAYS what we need to hear. Thank you for being obedient to the call God has placed on your life. I cannot wait to see what new books/teachings/speaking HE is calling you to in the future! Love you sister!!

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  2. Love you too!! :-D Thanks for pushing me forward when I start doubting! Your encouragement always makes my day!

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