It's a funny thing about forgiveness. A person can tell themselves they have forgiven someone, try to convince them self they have forgiven, when the reality is that what our mouth and will might have decided is best still alludes our heart. When the heart remains unconvinced, however, the matter is not yet settled.
How does one arrive at true forgiveness, and know that it is not just us trying to convince ourselves, but in fact a genuine act of divine intervention, allowing us to genuinely forgive someone that has sinned against us? Because the reality is, a person can go through the same process (sometimes for years) of confessing from their mouth, "Lord, I forgive so-and-so" for what they did; we can even try to convince God that we have, sometimes as an act of our sheer determination, indeed forgiven the offender - yet still miss the boat.
When wounds are deep and it seems that all your efforts fail to loose your heart from the struggle, what is required is both willingness on your part, and divine intervention on the part of God. He never asks us to do something that He does not give us His help to carry out. Jesus said we must forgive others or God can not forgive our own sins, but He does not leave us without His help. He provides the grace to pull those stubborn weeds out of wounded, bitter hearts so that His love and grace will flow from vessels of integrity.
Until you see the offender in the light of your own human weakness and can bring yourself to identify with them as a person who has been wounded, genuine forgiveness will escape you. It is when we can accept the fact that the person who did wrong to us did so out of their own unresolved pain, perhaps their own fears or insecurities, and we are just as prone to making the same type of error if perhaps we had felt what they experienced. What would have happened if we had heard the enemy's logic as it had been whispered in their ears? How would we have reacted if we had felt the same emotions, listened to the enemy's twisted ideas of truth, and become prey to be used for wrongdoing? Could it be possible that we would have committed the same type of fault? Have we even done something similar in times past, perhaps never stopping to think that we too were once guilty of a similar crime?
I know that there are some things that are just plain heinous. Unthinkable things that predators have done to willfully harm others. Yet, they too were once just children. Innocents that had something inexplicable or perhaps unimaginable done to them. The wounded, if they are never healed, go on to become predators themselves, lashing out to hurt and offend others or willfully mistreat them. It doesn't excuse wrong behavior, but it helps us understand it. It is truly only God's grace that can intervene and allow us to see deep hurt and offense in this light. It is the piercing light of His love that allows compassion to arise, enabling us to forgive those that have hurt us. This is the divine gift of God's grace, to forgive with genuine humility of heart. When your heart has truly released the person that offended you, you will know it, because you will feel your heart soften towards them. You will experience the gift of compassion that allows you to be forever free from those old wounds.
It doesn't necessarily mean that the person we have forgiven is off the hook with God; but it means that we are. If we are to ever recover real joy and peace, we must ask God for His ability to see the perpetrators through His eyes, for in doing so He also grants His ability to forgive. Compassionately. Understanding all human beings, no matter how grave their sin and faults, are prone to being used by the enemy - as we all have been at one time or another - to inflict pain unnecessarily.
It was for this cause that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to walk among man and demonstrate Divine Love and Grace. Intellectually we may know this to be true and accept the word of God. But until we model it...live it...demonstrate it...we fall tremendously short of being Christ-like. God gives us challenges with human relationships not so that we can dwell upon the pain, but so that we have endless opportunities to demonstrate that we truly KNOW Him.
I thank You for showing me anyone I might still need to forgive. Bring their name to mind, Lord. I want to please You, so I ask for a gift of Divine Grace to be poured out into my heart. I ask You to enable me to see those that have hurt or offended me through Your eyes. Help me to see them through eyes of compassion so that I can truly forgive and be healed. Help me to recover my joy, Lord, for it is joy that becomes my strength to overcome. Help me to recover peace and experience Your presence in a greater way. Forgive me Lord, for I need Your forgiveness and Your mercy every day. In Jesus name, amen.
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