Finding it Hard to Forgive?
My biological father left our family when I was ten. For whatever reason he had a more exciting life to live, and that didn’t include us. There was no contact. No calls. Nothing for years.
During that time, I felt anger toward him. In fact, I determined that if I saw him again, I would not call him “dad,” but would address him formally beginning with Mister.
As God would have it, my father showed up at my high school graduation. Of all the times in school life when celebrating is at its peak and excitement is in the air, it’s graduation. For me, it was to date one of the most emotional weekends of my life. The meeting with my father was amiable with a request for forgiveness.
As the years continued, he would visit once a year. I struggled to forgive him. I prayed that God would help me to forgive. Gradually, God taught me His forgiveness.
During one of my father’s visits, I remember watching him play with my kids and thought, “You don’t even deserve to be at my house playing with my children.” God graciously reminded me, that I didn’t deserve what I got either. Psalm 103:10, 11 says, “He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”
During one of my father’s visits, I remember watching him play with my kids and thought, “You don’t even deserve to be at my house playing with my children.
The most arresting moment for me came when our family had relocated. All my friends where we previously lived were aware of the situation with my father, but in our new location they were not. I was already irritated at the thought of introducing him to those around me. As a top leader in our new location, I noticed that when I introduced family members, others would be so happy to meet them. I dreaded introducing my father. These people, not knowing our situation, would excitedly say, “Oh, it’s so nice to meet your dad!” I constantly played the annoying scenario over in my mind.
God faithfully put things in perspective for me. One day I was mulling over the introduction once again, and God kindly prompted my heart with, “Carolyn, how do I introduce you?” What? I almost stopped dead in my tracks! How would You introduce me? My introduction should be… “sinner, one who has fallen short, unworthy.” However, because of God’s great grace He introduces me as “Forgiven, My friend, My Beloved, My Masterpiece, My child.”
One day God kindly prompted my heart with, “Carolyn, how do I introduce you?”
It was a beautiful moment of realizing God’s enormous forgiveness for me! In Matthew 18:21-35, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?” Peter then offered what, in his mind, was a very generous number of times to forgive – “Seven times?” Jesus replied, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!”
Jesus then proceeded to share a parable to illustrate the sharp contrast between His forgiveness and ours. He told the story of a king who wished to bring his accounts up to date. A man came to him owing millions of dollars. Since the man couldn’t pay, the king ordered that he be sold along with his wife, children, and possessions in order to pay the debt. However, the man fell down before the king and begged for his patience to pay the debt. The king filled with compassion instead decided to release the man and forgive his debt!
BUT when that same man, free of his own debt, left the king’s presence, he found a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. The man seized him and demanded payment of what he owed. Surprisingly, that servant responded the same way the man had; he begged for mercy and patience to repay the debt, but the man would have none of it! He had this fellow servant arrested and put in prison until the debt was paid in full.
Witnesses to this injustice reported the incident to the king who summoned the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” The king had the unforgiving servant thrown into prison to be tortured until his debt was paid.
We’ve been forgiven a tremendous debt by our Heavenly Father, can we in turn forgive those who have wronged us?
The Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:13 wrote, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Anyone you need to forgive? There is amazing freedom in forgiveness!