Forgiveness Is Hard

Burnout. Forgiveness. Betrayal. Three things that hit me in one week. It was a crazy mix of emotions that ran into another timely sermon.

First, the backstory. Two months earlier, I and some friends planned a day zip-lining. Before I paid the non-refundable $70, I asked someone if he’d work my Saturday if we were still working. He would.

The week of, the guy covering me backed out, taking a last minute vacation. This was on top of another planned vacation the next week. So I had to work both my Saturday and his the following week.

Fine, I’ll improvise, adapt, and overcome. I will zip-line a little and walk back to the truck and leave for work. My friend who’d done it before said I couldn’t do that, it’s zip-lining back to the start.

I text my coworker, practically begging that they would work in my place. In the end, I had to eat the $70 and miss it. Inside I was a storm of emotion. It wasn’t that I lost the money, it’s that I lost time with friends.

I thought, ‘my generosity in helping him is reaching its limits. I won’t be so accommodating anymore.’ Then something Pastor Rod said popped into my head.

“Forgiveness is refusing to get even.”

The next day I thought, ‘I won’t get even, but I won’t go out of my way.’ Then a verse from Matthew popped into my head.

If someone makes you go one mile, go two.

Chesterton’s quote on the Christian ideal is true. It’s found difficult and left untried.

How Can I Handle This?

Pastor Rod had it covered in his series, OUCH!

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:12; 14-15

Forgiveness leaves a bad taste in our mouths sometimes. I had to take what he taught though and apply it, step by step. First, he explained what forgiveness isn’t.

It’s not pretending that it didn’t hurt, or minimizing the wrong. When you do that you cheapen the forgiveness. Nor is it excusing the wrong, taking the blame for it, or overlooking it. Forgiveness isn’t an emotion, a feeling, or a reunion.

They broke my trust, now it has to be earned back.

What is forgiveness then?

It’s giving up the right to get even. Ouch. Pastor Rod said to pray for them, so my heart is softened towards them and I’m better able to forgive.

I have to treat them as forgiven. Speak kindly, act gently towards them, and speak about them as forgiven. That’s hard. It’s not natural, it’s supernatural.

Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s not instant. It’s a process.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:21-22

It’s not optional for a Christ-follower, it’s a command.

I’m working through it. It’s hard, and it’s only through God’s power in me that I can, and I still slip. Is forgiveness hard for you?

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