It is a universal truth that everyone experiences emotional pain at some point in life. People hurt people. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but everyone goes through it.
R.E.M.’s 1993 hit “Everybody Hurts” has often featured high up in all time favourite song lists simply because people can relate so closely to its message.
The antidote to hurt is forgiveness, and although it may be true that everybody hurts, not everybody forgives.
The problem that people often have with forgiveness is that it appears to let the other party “get away with it”. We are the offended party and if we forgive, they get to go on with their life as though we have given them a “get out of jail free card”. Surely that’s not fair!
The thing is, of course, they are probably doing that anyway, and although holding grudges and plotting revenge makes us feel as though we are getting them back, in actual fact we are just hurting ourselves.
Forgiveness is for our benefit.
To hold onto grievances and repeat an offence over and over in our minds means that the wrong-doing of the other person has succeeded in putting us in jail, whilst their off doing their own thing, probably ignorant of what they have done. Forgiveness is the key to our own freedom.
Romans 12 talks about this at length:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Taken from Romans 12: 14-21)
Blessing those who have hurt us includes not repeating what they have done. Overcoming evil with good means speaking well of them or looking for ways in which you can do something good for them.
This sounds a tall order, but God helps those who are determined not to get caught in the trap of offence to break free from it. Plus it opens the door for God to take care of the situation.
Forgiveness is not easy, but living with a wounded soul is much harder.
Do yourself a favour: Forgive