Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts on Forgiveness

I’m listening right now to Amy Grant singing that she believes in “simple things… the miracle of forgiving.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are one or two situations in my life where it really will take a miracle for me to forgive -- and it is in no way simple. In these particular situations, the people apparently never stop trying to find ways to do harm, always on the lookout for a way to trap someone – they don’t do it just to me, because I see them doing it to others, too. It seems to be their modus operandi.

It’s said that hurting people hurt people. And that’s true. But that doesn’t make things any easier when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s vile and venom. And you know that, deep down and despite their protestations to the contrary, they intended it to hurt.

I’ve struggled to forgive them over and over again. No sooner do I think that I’ve managed to give it over to God then I find that I’ve taken it back again. Why? Because. I. Want. Justice. And I want it now, where I can see it and feel the glory of it.

Counter-productive, I know.

And definitely not how God would have His daughter (that’s me) behaving.

I’ve started reading a book called What to do on the worst day of your life, written by Pastor Brian Zahnd. I’m not recommending this as a replacement for Scripture, of course. (Nothing replaces Scripture.) And I don’t agree with everything Zahnd surmises. BUT, he did point out something very important that I’d not thought about. And it’s this:

Forgiveness is not the “abdication of justice. Instead, forgiveness involves deferring justice to God.” (page 26 of Zahnd’s book).

This is another ah-ha! moment in my spiritual journey. Because that means I don’t have to feel it. I just have to do it. It’s an objective thing and isn’t based on what I’m feeling. In fact, any lingering hurt feelings will be a whole separate issue to take up with God. The main thing is to defer justice to God. I can’t bring those people to justice anyway – so it's useless to keep worrying over the situation. Better to just to get on with it. Then, if there are still hurt feelings – well, I’ll process those feelings with God as many times as it takes for them to leave. At least I will know that justice will be appropriately served – in God’s time and by God’s choice and His means, not mine.

This is a struggle of many years that I think just might be coming, if not to a close then at least to a better place. What a relief! And no, my forgiving them – deferring justice to God -- probably won’t stop those people who deliberately hurt others, but it does open up the place where I can stay close to the Lord in the midst of the storm.

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