Forgiveness. I like to think that I am quick to seek forgiveness when I have wronged someone and just as swift to offer it when someone requests it of me. I like to think that. But I'm not so sure that it's always true.
I know that true forgiveness brings healing and restoration. But I also know it doesn't come without a price. As humans, we aren't able to just forget something that hurt or harmed us. God is the only one who can truly forgive and forget. The rest of us simply have to choose to move forward from that place of pain or injustice even though we still remember what happened.
That's why forgiving someone isn't for the faint of heart. It is difficult and requires a generosity of heart and mercy that doesn't come naturally to most of us. In his devotional, "A Year with God," R. P. Nettlehorst stated it so clearly that it was actually painful to me when I read it. He said, "Forgiveness is the granting of mercy to one who deserves anger. Forgivness is a decision against justice. Forgiveness gives a benefit to one who does not deserve it." Those words go against everything that we believe is fair and just. Yet they are at the very heart of true forgiveness.
In this life, we will all do things that cause others pain. And as much as we might like to, we can't go back and undo those things. Many years ago, my pastor summed up forgiveness in a way that I have never forgotten. He said, "Forgivness means being willing to live with the consequences of someone else's sin." We don't live in a vacuum. Our actions impact people and relationships. May we all offer and receive true, mercy-filled forgiveness that brings restoration