“Why then do so many people hold on to the hurt, pain, anger and frustration that go hand in hand with an unforgiven offense? Lord, help us remember that when You forgive us, it is complete and unconditional. If we cannot pass that favor on to our brothers and sisters everywhere of whom You have instructed us to love dearly, we are saying no to You and no to Your forgiveness for us. The Lord’s prayer says, ‘…Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us…’ Our forgiveness must mirror Yours or else we are telling You not to forgive us completely. Isn’t the horrible crucifixion of You dear Jesus on the cross enough to pay for that person’s sin? You shed Your precious blood and sacrificed Your life to forgive everyone for everything. What more can possibly be done to let this person be forgiven? When we refuse to forgive, our self love and pride take over saying ‘I deserve more, no one can treat me like that and nothing that anyone can do is enough to satisfy my sense of justice.’
“God, You created every living person and You want to dwell within everyone. Can we really step into the role of judge and decide that that person is not worthy of love when You have already claimed him and You want to dwell inside him as well? The person may be confused, struggling with their own issues, learning and transforming themselves, though not always very well. But Lord, You want all of us and You have a plan for each and every one of us. We are all on a journey of self exploration and transformation. If I can’t forgive someone because they messed up, am I telling You Lord not to forgive me when I mess up? I think back on my life and I cringe at all the stupid things I have said and done, the people I hurt, the careless disregard I showed at times and I am so grateful that those ridiculous transgressions have been forgiven by You dear Lord who contains all power, authority and justice. If some of the people I hurt along the way have also forgiven me, then I am doubly blessed and filled with a sense of relief and gratitude. I believe in heaven and eternal life and I believe that all anger, hurt, pain and disgust will not exist there. Why can’t it also begin here on earth? ‘…Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth and it is in heaven…’ Isn’t this the prayer You taught us when the early disciples first asked You to teach them how to pray?
“By holding on to a grudge, we also let our pride swell up inside us, implying that we know something more about the situation or the person than You, the very One who created everything. How can we possibly know the whole story? Everyone has a history and a series of events that shapes us and oftentimes, influences our behaviors. Many times, people are more understanding if they know the background or where that person came from. Only You Lord, know everyone’s true story so we need to trust your judgment which always has forgiveness as its end. When we refuse to forgive, it’s as if we are saying, ‘Fine, You can forgive him if You like Lord. Sacrifice Your Son for him and his offense, but that is not enough for me. I don’t care about the whole story. I cannot forgive that person. That person hurt me beyond repair.’ This also shows a lack of confidence and faith in Your healing power. You can heal and turn the hardest of hearts if only we ask You to do so.
“Is that offense we find so hard to forgive really worth saying no to You God? When we can’t forgive, when we say no to You Lord, we are not allowing You to dwell within us. When we don’t allow You Lord within us, we lose our joy, our peace, and our love and we replace these with anger, chaos, frustration, hurt and pain. We are not at peace and we become consumed with ourselves and how we feel. This feeds our pride and our self love and we lose our vision of God within us, the way the stain of breath disappears on a mirror and we are left only looking at ourselves.
“We also bind ourselves to the person we can’t forgive. That person may not even realize how hurt we are and he or she may have moved on without a passing thought of us. Yet we remain tied to that person through our lack of forgiveness. Our thoughts and feelings dwell on them and we can become consumed with misery over this person. Forgiveness cuts those binds like scissors and frees us from all the anger, hurt and frustration. Dear Lord, give me the grace to pick up the scissors and cut those bonds. Free me through Your love.
“Lord, help us remember that as Christians, we are called to imitate Christ in all situations, as best as we can, and though we are not perfect like Him, we are asked to try. Help us also remember how Your perfect Son, who was completely without sin, was unmercifully persecuted, condemned, beaten, mocked, humiliated, and cruelly murdered for doing absolutely nothing more than loving us and offering a way to eternal happiness. When we can’t forgive someone, stop and think about it. Was that person’s offense and our subsequent hurt feelings or anger anything compared to Jesus’ persecution? Maybe it was. Maybe there were horrific consequences, but then remember Jesus. How did He treat His persecutors? He forgave them while He died on the cross. Are we so much better that we can’t forgive?
“Lord, I welcome the opportunity to show mercy to others because it is what You do for all of us. If someone offends me, I take it as a chance to grow and a test of how much I have learned of Your mercy. When I feel that tinge of anger swell up inside me toward someone, I will stop and think about how insignificant the issue really is compared to some of the awful tragedies that occur throughout the world. I pray especially for those people who are really hurt by others through the murder of a loved one or a senseless hate crime. To forgive a delusional murderer or a terrorist is a huge test of mercy. I think those who are asked to forgive in these situations are truly asked to imitate Christ and I see them as saints and I hope to try to be like them. When they forgive, they are truly imitating You dear Lord.
“Lord, I pray for mercy and I pray for the grace of forgiveness. I pray that I can always see the beautiful soul You placed inside everyone, no matter how lost or confused they might be on their journey. You never turned Your back on me or denied me forgiveness, may I never turn my back on anyone or deny them forgiveness either, ‘…on earth as it is in heaven.’”