What about when relationships break down not because someone moved away or chose another church or did something petty that you just can’t seem to overlook?
Sometimes wrong things happen. We are sinned against — at times deeply.
Faces are popping into my mind. The wife and young mom whose husband finally confessed the adultery she had been suspicious of for years. A beautiful single gal who found the courage to tell a friend about the sexual abuse she experienced at age 7. Twenty-some years of marriage ending because the wife decided she just didn’t love him anymore. Broken sibling relationships due to inheritance disputes. Parents who just learned about their son’s longterm battle with pornography and illicit relationships.
Sin hurts. And while we are the ones who often do the sinning, sometimes we are sinned against in ways that break our hearts and tempt us to sin back.
I’ve been hurt by the sins of others. And I’ve too often sinned back with anger, bitterness, self-pity or hateful thoughts. I’m grateful for the truths of scripture that haven’t allowed me to continue in these destructive and God-grieivng patterns. What hope I’ve found in being convicted of my own sins, rather than focusing my gaze on the sins of others. Knowing that my many sins against God have been forgiven by the only One who could justifiably choose to write me off helps me to forgive.
The sins against you may be far more serious than any against me. And if you have been gravely hurt, abused or are battling depression or ongoing sadness in your suffering, I pray you will seek help from someone who can help you approach the “throne of grace where you find mercy and help in your time of need” (Heb 4:16).
Yet we are all called to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the person who sinned against us isn’t guilty. In fact, our need to forgive them actually validates the wrongs they have done because only the guilty need forgiveness. Jesus taught us this when He, the sinless one, said, “Father, forgive them.”
C.S. Lewis said, “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
I have something to forgive today. It’s nothing serious or scandalous. Just a normal life kind of thing. Do you have something to forgive? Maybe it’s huge and you’ve been suffering alone for a long time. Or maybe, like me, you’ve felt overlooked, unloved or unappreciated by someone that may not even know you’re struggling because they had no intention of tempting you to feel that way.
I do think forgiveness is a lovely idea. Jesus extended it to me, and I want to be like Him. Help me, Lord.