WHEN IT HURTS LIKE HELL, FORGIVE LIKE HEAVEN

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” – Nelson Mandela

Have you ever needed to recover from an illness or injury? Recovery from a serious injury, for example, is often a long, painful process. Often the greater or more serious the injury, the longer and more painful the recovery process. This is often true when we find ourselves injured by hurt and offenses committed against us. The greater the injury, the longer and more painful the recovery process.

Just like in a physical illness and injury, if we try to skip or speed up the recovery process, we will find more damage to the sick or wounded area. When left untreated, we risk infection and even greater, longer-lasting injury. Cleaning out a wound may hurt almost as much as the original injury. However, if we avoid that cleaning by simply covering a gash with a Band-Aid, we risk infection, disease, and even the loss of the wounded limb. For complete healing, we must embrace the painful recovery process.

We clean our emotional wounds by remembering, and inviting the Holy Spirit into what hurts.  He brings healing as we let go and forgive.  When Jesus was on the cross, he prayed a remarkable prayer.

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34 NIV).

Even when it hurts like hell, Jesus invites us to forgive like he does.  In the moment when he felt the most alone, betrayed and abandoned to a tortured death, Jesus forgave.  What the resurrection did for his broken body, forgiveness does for our broken soul.   When we feel broken, the pathway to resurrection is through forgiveness. 

Facing the pain of what we feel can be incredibly difficult.  Often we have to decide to forgive repeatedly before we get free of the pain.  For the deepest brokenness, we may need the help of a counselor or a pastor to heal.  But it all begins with facing what hurts and inviting Jesus into our painful places.

“Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.” – Colossians 3:12-13

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  • Are there hurts and offenses that you are leaving untreated? Are you willing to follow Jesus even in these hurts, to embrace the pain of recovery?
  • What does accepting Jesus’ forgiveness look like for you?
  • Are you willing to exchange the familiarity of unforgiveness for the freedom of forgiveness, even though it might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable?

PRAYER POINTS

  • Thank Jesus for his redemptive work on the cross and for a recovered, restored relationship with him

  • Pray to follow Jesus through the pain of recovery, to forgive the hurt of any failure or offense

  • Surrender any patterns of thought or behavior that are rooted in unforgiveness, such as gossip, slander, comparison, bitterness, etc. Trust that Jesus to teach you new patterns of encouragement, prayer, thanksgiving, and joy anchored in his forgiveness