Grace, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

The Power of Forgiveness

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

In the darkness of suffering, our flaws stand out like beacons in the night. Family and friends don’t meet the hurting person’s needs. They interfere when they shouldn’t. They say stupid things or they don’t say anything at all. They don’t understand the pain.

And the actions and attitudes of hurting people are no less flawed. “Hurting people aren’t always nice,” Joni EarecksonTada explains. “Suffering can really breed selfishness or insensitivity … sometimes down right rudeness.”

How is it possible to find treasure in such an environment? The key is in one word: forgiveness. Whenever we find ourselves in the darkness we must learn to live a lifestyle of forgiveness if we want our relationships to survive and grow.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven,
but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Unfortunately many of us don’t understand forgiveness. We may agree and know that forgiveness is a good and right thing to do but we find it difficult to implement in our own lives. True forgiveness is able to take place when we acknowledge that we will fail others and they will fail us. We all need forgiveness.

Learning to forgive requires divine assistance. We may know that we need to forgive but feel utterly unable to.  That is when we can confess our predicament to God and ask for His help. That’s what concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom did when after the war one of the “most cruel” guards asked her for forgiveness. Be encouraged as you read her words:

“I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there,
but I would like to hear it from you as well.
Fraulein,” he thrust his hand out to Corrie,
“will you forgive me?”

I stood there and could not forgive …
to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with
the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
I had to do it – I knew that.
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
Jesus, help me! I prayed silently.
I can lift my hand. You supply the feeling.
And so mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me.
And an incredible thing took place.
The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm
and sprang into our joined hands.
And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being,
bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you brother!” I cried. “with all my heart.”
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands,
the former guard and the former prisoner.
I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

On the journey with you,
Dave and Jan Dravecky