Don’t wait for that forgiveness feeling

Published 9:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017

By Al Early

Over the last two weeks I have been writing about forgiveness.

In summary, I have shared that I don’t think forgiveness is forgetting. It is a choice we need to make, it brings freedom from bitterness, and it is agreeing to live with the consequences of the other person’s sin. Since we are going to live with the consequences anyway, we ought to do it while forgiving instead of holding onto offense.

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I want to start this week by sharing that we should not wait to forgive until we feel like it. The fact is we rarely have the courage or the desire to feel like we want to forgive someone. We tend to want to take the easy way out, which is to run away, ignore or seek revenge.

Often in ministry, the greatest healing occurs when I help someone forgive another. They have tried running away, ignoring, seeking revenge or all three, and they have found only pain and continued struggle in their lives.

I almost always help them to come to the courageous place of forgiveness through prayer, asking Jesus Christ to give them courage to forgive despite their struggle to do so. Almost every time I see Jesus’ miraculous healing power bring transforming freedom into their lives.

A common experience is when a person tells me of a sin their mother or father have committed against them. I may have to remind them that forgiveness is not reconciliation. That takes times and the rebuilding of trust, which may or may not happen, especially if the parent is unwilling to admit they have sinned, or has already died.

I may also have to talk to them about safe boundaries for that person because the parent may hurt again if given the chance. None of this hinders the power of forgiveness.

I will lead them in a prayer to forgive their parent, and even ask them to bless their mom or dad. It seems like every time the person has looked at me afterward and said, “Wow, I feel so much better!”

The Bible really doesn’t give us the option to forgive or not. The message is consistent and summarized well in Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Finally, do not wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness.

Once I was on a mission trip, and the trip leader decided he didn’t like me. The details of this problem were not clear, but it was obvious I was seen as a problem. I wanted to lash out and tell the person what I thought of his behavior.

Fortunately, I went to God in prayer, and asked for divine guidance. I felt like God was leading me to forgive the person in the privacy of my room, go ask the person for forgiveness to get the power of forgiveness working in our relationship.

Then I could focus on being 100 percent supportive of the person as leader the rest of the trip, regardless of what I actually thought. It was such a novel response to my prayers I knew it had to be God.

Things did not get better between the leader and myself, but I was faithful to God’s guidance and responded with support and praise every chance I got.

The impact on the rest of the team was nothing short of a miracle. Other relationship problems cleared up, we worked better together and enjoyed one another like we had not in the first few days.

God’s work on my heart was a miracle as well as he broke my heart of stone. I saw the power of forgiveness, but not in the way I expected. I regret that my relationship was not healed with the leader, but I was set free from any bitterness, and had a great time, while learning many wonderful faith lessons.

Where have you seen the power of forgiveness in your life? Have you ever seen God do more miraculous things with forgiveness than you expected? When you are facing a difficult situation do you go to God in prayer first to seek divine guidance? May God give you the courage to seek forgiveness whether you feel like it or not!

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see