Twenty years ago, I was in a difficult and trying situation. The details are not important, but what is important is that in my mind, I was treated unfairly, and I was deeply hurt. What’s more, I could not forgive the people who were treating me so poorly. It’s not as if I hated them or wished them harm. I was just hurting too much to forgive.
To make matters worse, I knew that Jesus commanded us to forgive each other, and that weighed me down even more. I just couldn’t do it. While the pain did soften over time, I still knew that I wasn’t ready to forgive—and this was two years after the event! I was able to do this only after a friend from my parish who had learned about healing started praying with me and helped me to take the right steps.
Over the next few months, I was brought to the point where I could speak words of forgiveness in my heart. I didn’t have the chance to speak to most of the people who had hurt me, but the freedom and peace I experienced showed me that God was healing me.
In this special Lenten issue of The Word Among Us, we want to focus on forgiveness. Jesus told us to pray, “Forgive us, Father, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” So in this issue, we want to take a look at how we can begin to forgive.
In our lead articles, we tell the story of Linda and how God helped her work through the pain of a divorce. (We have changed the names of the people involved, but the story is true.) As you read through Linda’s story, see if you can take the principles of healing and forgiveness that she experienced and apply them to your own life.
Freedom through Forgiveness. Coming to the point where we can say, “I forgive you” to someone who has hurt us, or even just saying it in our hearts, can be very powerful. It goes a long way in removing the judgments we have built up against the other person. It helps set us free from the desire for revenge and from the anger and cyincism that unforgiveness can bring. It also protects us from the devil’s attempts to keep us trapped in our painful memories.
So as we begin this season of Lent, let’s ask Jesus to help us pardon those who have hurt us. Let’s try our best to live the words he uttered on the cross: “Father, forgive them.” It took me years to let go of my hurts, but I was healed. Jesus set me free from the pain and from the judgments I was holding against these people. It was a powerful work of the grace of God. I know he can do this for all of us!
May we all give glory to Jesus by working on forgiving everyone who has hurt us. All we have to do is take the next step, and the Lord will bless us beyond our expectations.
Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]