“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.”
How easy do you find it to forgive? Maybe you are just one of life’s sweethearts and forgiveness and mercy pour out of you at the mere sign of an apology – or maybe you are more like me and nursing one’s hurts like a hot water bottle in winter comes much more naturally? Forgiveness is not a quick thing. Bearing with each other does not seem to imply a quick ‘that’s alright’ that makes everything feel rosy again. Real forgiveness can take years and, for some really big hurts, it can take a lifetime’s determination to keep doing it.
Jesus knew how hard it was to forgive. As he became the solution for our forgiveness, he was only too aware of how costly real forgiveness can be. Becoming a forgiving person is one of those things that takes time and practice. It’s a daily decision to let go and bear with. It’s a commitment to not hold on to hurt even when there is no apology forthcoming and we feel misunderstood.
The really big hurts in life rarely come with a gushing apology or even a realisation of the damage caused. These hurts can be life changing. Being able to forgive, without ever minimizing the wrong that caused the hurt, is really hard but also essential to our health and survival. Jesus says that he can help us to be free of the burden of not being able to forgive. He doesn’t say it will be easy or instant, he just promises that with him it is possible. Maybe knowing that we are forgiven ourselves is the place to start?
Pray that God will give you the grace to let go of things that have hurt you.
Think back over the last year: what do you need to let go of before Christmas? Give it to God.