I’ve never really had to forgive in a big way. That is, no one has ever really said or done anything that, after a short cool-down period, I haven’t been able to forgive. It seems that I’ve just had little day to day moments of needing to forgive, when somebody has spoken too quickly, another has come down too hard, or someone has embarrassed me.
Recently, however, I’ve experienced two separate hurts which have challenged my ability to forgive. Having been slapped in the face with the sin of other people, I’ve discovered that I have to fight with every ounce of my strength not to want to grab hold of it and revel in their failings. Perhaps if I expose the ways in which I’ve been hurt, others will see how truly awful the offender is, and my outrage will be justified? Maybe I will allow myself to brood on my anger just for a little while, long enough for them to learn their lesson, but not long enough for me to become bitter. I don’t deserve this, I think often.
In the midst of all my feelings of injustice, anger, hurt and grief at harsh words said and tainted relationships, never before have I thought so hard on the depths God had to go to forgive me, a wretched sinner. I know that I am a sinner. How undeserving am I of the beautiful forgiveness God has given me in Christ, yet it is mine? I know that we’re all sinners. How are undeserving are we all of the way God has welcomed us unworthy creatures back into his fold?
And so again, I can forgive, because God has modelled forgiveness perfectly to me.
As time passes though, I feel as though our reconciliation has not lead to resolution. I keep wondering whether reconciliation necessarily entails fully restored relationships? (I know that Jesus’ death pays our debt and enables us to have a right relationship with God again, but is it possible for us lowly humans?) I find myself frequently revisiting the events, not because I haven’t forgiven people, but because there remains this uneasy sense that all is not quite right. Am I supposed to forgive and forget? Should I be able to move forward from having forgiven, to forgetting what has unfolded? Maybe this indicates that I haven’t forgiven at all?
When God wipes away our sin with the blood of Christ, does he forget our failings?