How do you forgive "life altering hurts"?
First, remember that God is with you. Psalm 34:18.
I come back to Jesus' prayer on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." For your freedom, you need to settle the issue in your heart as to what you're going to do with your offender.
1. Bitter or Better. Forgiveness, I believe, means choosing to release your offender to The Lord, choosing to move on with God's help and choosing not to let this event define you negatively, but to make you stronger. "...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope". (Romans 5:3, 4 NIV). Are you going to allow your situation to make you bitter or better?
2. Actions Have Consequences. We keep both the following principles in mind from scripture. Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." Romans 13:1, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
3. God Still Changes Hearts. Remember that forgiveness is about your freedom. It is possible as you walk this path and allow God to change your heart, your heart for your offender will change as well. It could even be possible that you start to see them as a sinner in need of salvation. The change that only God can bring. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come the old has gone the new is here." 2Cor.5:17.
4. Forgiveness Is The Only Path to Freedom. This is such a deep reaching issue and I know there may be some who still have questions, like "do you forgive something like this right away? How can you if the hurt is so fresh? How do you balance these issues of grace and justice? What if it's too painful or impossible to extend forgiveness to my offender?" These are all valid questions. However, this I do know. Forgiveness brings freedom. You must walk this path or you will not be free.
"Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
"Forgiveness" by Matthew West
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Question for Reflection
What are ways we keep hurts fresh and in turn allow bitterness to grow? How can we change our ways?
I welcome your comments. I certainly acknowledge that the points above peer into a big issue in many people's lives and my desire isn't to diminish your experience, but to point you to Christ, the author of real freedom.