Choosing forgiveness is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. Make no mistake, it is a constant choice. Maybe you are just like me. The slightest hardened thought toward those who have offended me, the least twinge when I remember the past without having hope for a new future, and I find myself thinking I am back at square one in being free. But the truth is, forgiveness is a work from God that takes time. A lot of time.
How can I be free? Certainly, if I only look at the end result, it may utterly and totally impossible to be released from the pain.
I've been thinking about Jesus and his life and earth, the sacrifice of it all, being God in the flesh, choosing to give up heaven in order to redeem man, and what it cost Him to do so: death on a cross. A death without dignity, instead one of shame. One that took the very power of God to accomplish.
His life was filled with seeming contradictions. Accessible to children but strong enough to confront those who offended the name of God by their lives and words and actions. Willing to let a friend die to the scorn and disappointment of the dead man's siblings but powerful enough to raise him from the dead. Bold and blunt as John the Baptist proclaiming repentance to the masses, not always patient with those who followed him. All done by the power of God.
Jesus was willing to change water to the finest of wines to aid in a wedding celebration. (Love that part of Him!) And willing to ask the Father to forgive those who cruficied Him on two wooden logs while these same executioners slandered the very One who laid down his life for them. Again, by the power of God. Interesting that forgiveness was the last thing He did on the cross, and it was probably the hardest.
There it is: it is by the very power of God Himself that we choose forgiveness and let God do his work in us to accomplish it. The process and end result is His work; the obedience to want to forgive, asking Him for strength to walk in it- and be sensitive and honest when we struggle to be free- belongs to us. His work, our obedience. Like all of life, we cannot do it without Him. It's prideful and foolish to think we can, and it's very unwise and ungodly to live in bitterness and hatred but so easy to do.
Help us, help me, Heavenly Father, to rest in your love and to trust in your work to help me to forgive. I want to, but I cannot do it on my own. Set me free from the prison others have created within me by their words and actions and my response to them.