“How do we forgive deep hurt? A good piece of advice I can give you is this: Immediately forgive the person who says or does something against you. Then the devil has no chance of letting a shadow remain in your heart.” — Corrie ten Boom
Tante Corrie’s wisdom was born out of a lifetime of making the right decisions during great suffering. I was fortunate to discover Corrie’s ministry as a young believer. I devoured her books as they taught me how to live the Christian life in very practical ways. While I did not experience the extreme persecution and hardship that she suffered for her Jewish friends during World War II, Corrie’s teachings on forgiveness drew me in. She didn’t just teach these truths, she lived them.
I had the privilege of hearing Corrie speak in the late 1970s. Peace and love radiated from her wrinkled countenance. Corrie’s thick Dutch accent didn’t detract from the good news she carried around the world. God was her Hope, her Defender and her Advocate. She gave up her perceived right to judge those who grievously harmed her family.
Forgiveness – the key to moving on
Some of those with whom I entrusted my life story asked me why I am not bitter and resentful. One day, I will tell my story publicly, but now is not the time. However, I can happily pass on to you the secret I shared with my friends. What was the key that enabled me to move on?
I forgave those who hurt my loved ones and me. I learned that forgiveness does not equate to allowing a person back into my life if they are a danger to my loved ones or me. Forgiveness released me from the obligation of being my offender’s judge and jury. Mercy broke the heavy chain that bound me to my abusers.
As someone once wrote, “Refusing to forgive is like allowing your abuser to live rent-free in your head.” Forgiveness breaks obsessive thoughts of revenge and bitterness. Forgiveness allows you to embrace God’s forgiveness for your sins. Forgive yourself for being in the position to be hurt. Forgive the powerless little girl or boy inside of you; forgive that foolish teenager within; forgive yourself for using your past as an excuse to make poor choices that harm you today.
This might sound shocking, but ask yourself this hard question. “Do I need to forgive God? ” Although He has done nothing that requires our forgiveness, many people hold secret grudges against God. “If You had intervened, then this wouldn’t have happened.” “If You stopped me from marrying so and so, then my life wouldn’t be such a mess today.”
Lay your past at the cross, then walk in freedom
We must face our past if we are to find healing and freedom. As we address these issues, forgiveness plays a pivotal role in moving forward. Albert Haase says it so well.
“Many will charge that dragging up the past is fruitless and wastes time on things that are best forgotten… but emotional wounds are like physical ones: They do not heal if they are neglected; they only become infected and can become life damaging. The hurt must be brought into the light and treated.” — Albert Haase “Living the Lord’s Prayer: The Way of the Disciple” IVP Books.
Why let go of unforgiveness? You might as well ask, “Why should I be set free from the prison of my own making?”
For further study, meditate on Matthew 18:21-35, “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.”
Some people fail to forgive themselves long after God forgives them. I’ve often pondered the unmerciful servant’s immediate actions after leaving the King’s court. If he had actually believed that His debt was erased, would it have prevented the actions that followed? Why did he feel he needed a Plan B ready, just in case the king went back on his word?
Do you take God at His word? If you have lived your life to pay off a debt to God because of earlier wrongdoings, choose to live your life in freedom, serving Him out of love and not out of a fearful obligation to prove you are worthy of His forgiveness. Those who find it difficult to forgive themselves and walk in His freedom often struggle with releasing others from emotional debt.
Until Next Week
©2023 Katherine Walden