I just cannot!
This is too big to forgive.
I wrestled daily as I thought about the offense. I could not see any way out. I was deeply entrenched in the low country of bitterness, resentment, and anger.
Three months into this cycle, I was miserable enough to ask myself, how do I leave this low country for the high country?
How could I forgive an offense that has left me in many broken pieces? It is too big to forgive.
Each day during my run, I had the same conversation with the Lord. He reminded me that I am forgiven and loved. However, it was too hard to let go.
He even used a story to show me that forgiveness is essential to following him. Matthew 18:21-35 is an account of a story that Jesus told when Peter asked him about forgiveness.
Peter: Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?
Jesus: Seven! Hardly, try seventy times seven.
Jesus told the story of a king who decided to settle accounts with all his servants. A servant, who owed the king millions of dollars, could not pay, so the king ordered everything he owned to be sold including his wife and children. The servant was beside himself. Rolling on the floor, he pleaded with the king for a chance to pay back what he owed. The king had mercy on him and canceled all his debts.
As soon as the forgiven servant left the king, he ran into a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. The forgiven servant was merciless. He grabbed the servant by the throat and had him arrested and put in jail until he could pay the debt. When the king heard about this incident, he was furious. He asked the servant why he could not forgive his fellow servant just as he had done for him. Then he ordered him to be locked up until he could pay his entire debt.
Jesus ended the story saying, this is what my Father will do if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.
While this story touched me, it did not have an immediate impact on my decision to forgive. I still thought that it was not comparable to my situation and I was treated unfairly.
The Lord is patient and compassionate. He gave me another chance to repent and choose to forgive.
One Sunday during my run in the morning, I was going up the hill when I saw a picture of Jesus in my mind. I saw His outstretched arms and nail pierced hands. Slowly taking in the scene, I asked what He wanted of me. He told me how He has forgiven me of all my sins and he requires me to do the same. He said I could ask him to help me forgive.
Seeing His picture, I was overwhelmed by God’s love. I started crying and whispered, Lord, I cannot forgive this offense on my own. I need your help.
For the rest of the day, I felt at peace. I cannot tell you that I forgave instantly, but over time, I let go of the offense. I gained God’s perspective and all the raw emotions I felt when I thought about the offense, no longer had a hold on me.
I actually began to see this person through the eyes of Jesus. I prayed for them regularly and asked the Lord to forgive them.
Forgiveness is something we all struggle with daily. It is so easy to hold onto offenses, but Jesus shows us another way.
How do you take the high road and forgive when you feel deeply offended?
If you have someone that has offended you and you are holding a grudge, tell God about the offense. Take the high road. Don’t allow bitterness, resentment, and anger to steal your joy.
Be honest. Tell God, how the offense made you feel. The Psalms have several examples of David’s heart cries as he told God about unfair treatments.
Ask God to soften your heart and show you how He can bring good through the situation.
Pray and ask God to forgive the offender.
Why should you forgive?
Because of Jesus, you are forgiven. You can risk forgiving others too.
Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT