Let me illustrate with a friend's situation. I hope to be clear while being vague and protecting identity. The husband and father left the family. The children struggle with anger toward the father. Even once coming to accept his abandonment and forgiving him, there are continual instances in which continual forgiveness is needed. When dad doesn't show up for his weekend...the children must forgive. When dad doesn't show up for their ball games...the children must forgive. When dad doesn't call as promised...the children must forgive. So, even if forgiveness is extended to the dad for leaving the family and causing emotional pain and abandonment, there are future events that will call the children to forgive that hurt again. There's a ho' 'nother (to mimic Pastor Ed Young Jr) set of forgiveness with the wife. She will continually be bopped in the head with instances requiring her to forgive her prodigal spouse. When the car breaks down...she must forgive. When the child support is late...she must forgive. When the stress of raising their children alone is too much...she must forgive.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Contrary to what some believe, forgiveness is not as easy as just doing it. It's not easy to say "I forgive because Christ does." Anyone who is in that position, I must wonder if true and deep forgiveness has been extended. Yes, we should forgive because Christ first forgave us. He tells us He will not forgive us if we don't forgive others. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 Forgive, and you will be forgiven Luke 6:37.
However, I don't see where He said it would be easy or even instant. How can we truly forgive an offense immediately and instantly? If someone has figured it out, please share with us all. I had a dear friend tell me I was to forgive (happen to be her) immediately and instantly. However, I cannot conscientiously say I forgive her (or anyone), not "feel" it truly, and then face my Lord. I can't profess to her, anyone, or my Lord I forgive and then my actions and heart say something totally different. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:35 From the heart...not just the lips. It hurts badly to be deceived, rejected, abandoned, mistreated. It seems to be there is nothing worse than to be abandon or loyalty taken. To depend on someone, to trust someone, to rely on someone, to expect their presence, love, and loyalty to always be there...and then nothing.
We cannot control what another does. Forgiveness really isn't about the other person. It is about the condition of our heart. Forgiveness is the firewall to bitterness and resentment. Without forgiveness, we take the risk of bitterness creeping into our heart and damaging it. Once it takes up full residency, it can cause such pain and trials in our lives. It is also harder to rid our heart of it once it resides there long term.
When my soul cries to sleep from loneliness...I must forgive. When the yard and house maintenance are too much for one...I must forgive. When I pass the Valentine cards and long to send one...I must forgive. When my heart is filled with how come...I must forgive. When decisions are left to be made alone...I must forgive. When help with broken appliances is needed...I must forgive. When memories of beautiful times flow...I must forgive. When love pours from my heart meant to be shared...I must forgive. When simple feels of missing and longing linger...I must forgive. When I don't understand how satan so easily had his way in deceiving my beloved...I must forgive. When abandonment is overpowering...I must forgive. When it's all too much to accept or comprehend...I must forgive...as Christ did. I must speak from my heart as Christ did...forgive him for he knows not what he's doing. He knows not the gravity of decisions and paths not of God chosen. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:24
We know that to extend forgiveness is primarily for ourselves. To forgive another benefits us more than the other person. However, I know my heart deeply longs to be forgiven. My heart knows that the bonds of satan and his ability to use bitterness, anger, resentment, and heart hardness will no longer be. My heart leaps for the joy that will fill my heart upon receiving forgiveness. My heart anticipates his transformation when he releases forgiveness to me. When forgiveness is extended by the other and received by me, we know hearts will be free, free to love each other again, free to live by God's plans and His plans alone. Such freedom comes with forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13Continually Forgiving,