“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” -Proverbs 4:23
There is no substitute for forgiveness.
Our deep pain will not be erased through any other means. We have just read Corrie’s terrible story, so we see that no matter what has happened in the past, God can help us to overcome. He wants to free us so that the negative issues that have wounded us, no longer affect our present and future. The prophet Joel gives a beautiful promise, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm…” (Joel 2:25)
Forgiveness is not a feeling.
Even with God’s help, forgiveness is difficult. Therefore it’s important to know that forgiveness is not a feeling. Sister Corrie didn’t feel like shaking the guard’s hand, she did it as an act of obedience to Jesus. Some people say, “Time alone can heal the wounds,” but healing doesn’t happen through the passing of time, only our Great Physician can heal. Others just try pushing the hurt to the back of their minds. This is called denial, but this is not forgiveness. You can’t pretend you weren’t hurt, because if you bury something alive it will come back and affect your life in other ways.
Reducing the problem is not forgiveness.
Sometimes instead of denying our suffering, we make light of it. We say things like, “It’s not such a big deal. What that person did wasn’t very wrong.” Reducing the problem is also not forgiveness. Each of us will answer to God directly, so forgiveness in no way sets the other person free from their responsibility. If someone hurt you, they will have to answer to Jesus for their wrong actions. You can’t relieve anyone of his or her responsibility, because that is God’s job. Only He can cleanse with His mercy.
Forgiveness is not the same as trust.
Forgiveness is given because of God’s grace, while trust is earned. If you think you need to be vulnerable to a person who has hurt you, you will probably not forgive. Forgiveness can be done in an instant, but trust requires proven character over a period of time. We develop trust only as people have established trustworthy behavior. Now that we’ve considered what forgiveness is not, tomorrow we will reflect on what forgiveness is.
“‘Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us…’” -Luke 11:4
“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” -Psalm 10:14