READ: Luke 23/34 “Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
It’s one of the great plagues of human existence that people will inevitably hurt you. They will lie to you. They will shout cutting words. They will leave your life without any explanation. Unfortunately, most of us have been hurt by people we deeply care about. It hurts, and sometimes it leads to devastating outcomes.
There are two ways to react to hurt. First, you could seek out revenge. Your natural inclination is to hurt the people that hurt you. You want to shout back at them. You want to spread a rumor about them. You want to cause them pain just like they did to you. Second, you could choose to hold a grudge. When you do this, the pain you experienced morphs into part of your personality. Seeking revenge is like a Kamikaze mission— you both get hurt in the end. Holding a grudge is like eating poison to harm someone else: it hurts you and doesn’t affect them.
There has to be another way.
Let’s look at the extraordinary example of Christ on the cross. While people were driving nails through the most sensitive parts of His body, Jesus uttered the words, “Forgive them.” The original language’s verb tense suggests that Jesus didn’t just say it once but that He continued saying it. He probably kept repeating this phrase while making eye contact with the people. Talk about a powerful example. They didn’t ask for forgiveness. They certainly didn’t deserve it, but Jesus initiated forgiveness with them.
When you struggle to forgive, remember the gift of God’s forgiveness for you. It doesn’t minimize the pain. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. It’s just a path towards a better life. Holding onto unforgiveness can make you feel dead and docile inside. It’s a sickness to your body. However hard, make the brave choice of letting it go. When you forgive, you can truly live.