Forgiveness is one of the wonderful gifts our Father in heaven gives us. To forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone or something. But where does the anger or resentment come from? The answer is hurt.
The Oxford dictionary defines the verb hurt to mean causing pain to someone or something. Pain in itself can be defined as a highly unpleasant feeling either physically or emotionally.
One certain occurrence in life is pain; that highly unpleasant feeling is a frequent experience we all go through from time to time. There is pain everywhere, I mean we all enter this world in the midst of some pain, and we will all live this world surrounded by pain as we are being mourned by our loved ones, let’s face it there is pain at the beginning, in between and at the end.
Jesus Christ also went through pain, the entire crucifixion process was very painful, from one of his close followers betraying him to being brought in front of the Pharisees where false allegations were made against him, to when He was in front of Pontius Pilate hearing the congregation screaming that a criminal be released rather than him. Can you imagine the emotional turmoil he faced as a result of the betrayal by his people, the same people he did all those great signs and wonders for, the people he cared for, the people he loved.
Couple this emotional pain with the physical pain he also went through, the lashing, the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the actual crucifixion, Indeed Jesus really went through a great deal of pain emotionally and physically.
We established earlier that pain is the cause of hurt i.e. it is pain that causes us to hurt. Let’s revisit the story of our Lord and the pain he went through. Did it cause him to hurt?
The answer is pretty obvious on a surface level right? I mean of course he hurt, the nailing the lashing, the crown of thorns, yes he hurt, at least from a physical point of view, but how about emotionally ? –Hmmm the plot thickens–
Well I can’t know this for certain, but my point of view is that he wasn’t hurt emotionally, I may be wrong but I Just think that he already went through all the emotional hurting in advance when he was at the garden of Gethsemane, plus his words on the cross to the other criminal were not word of hurt, even his final words on the cross -Father forgive them, for the no what they do- are not indicative of emotional hurt to me.
In the first paragraph, we also established the relationship between hurt and anger, the result of hurt is anger and resentment right? So how is it possible that Jesus didn’t have feelings of anger and resentment towards his oppressors?
The answer is in the second sentence of this write up, Forgiveness. Not the common type of forgiveness we are familiar with, you see our common type of forgiveness is reactive…
‘Kevin stepped on my new white sneakers, I was so mad, but I forgave him, ‘my boyfriend/girlfriend was mean to me, I needed some time away from him/her, but I forgave him or her in the end, or ’my son crashed my new car, I temporarily disowned him but I forgave him in the end’
You see this type of forgiveness is good but it’s too reactive and many times it has limits, I mean we hear people, even believers (myself included) say all sorts of stuff about the their limit of forgiveness
‘If you marry that girl I will never forgive you’ ‘if you get an abortion I will never forgive you’
‘If you get pregnant I will never forgive you’
I mean each and every one of us has made this sort of limiting statements regarding forgiveness. It’s funny how humans have a way of limiting God’s gift
It’s very simple really, when you set limits to your forgiveness, the devil will strive to make sure those limits are tested and the sad part is that most of us will fail. Setting limits on forgiveness is really you setting yourself up for temptation and potential failure, why would anyone in their right mind do that.
Christ has given us the capability of advanced forgiveness i.e. forgiving someone before they even commit the offence, ( I think that is one of the things Jesus was doing in the garden of Gethsemane) this is the kind of forgiveness we must all practice if we truly want to be Christ like (Christians).
We must forgive in a proactive manner and not in a reactive manner. People are going to hurt you and most of the times it’s the people we love. The idea is to find your own garden of Gethsemane from time to time and load up on forgiveness credit for your potential offenders. The trick is to do this before the hurt or pains starts to pile in.
We must learn to let go of the anger and forgive just as quickly as Christ forgives us. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” this part of the Lord’s Prayer holds serious meaning that we must break down for ourselves. But I will say this, you can’t pray to God with a heart that is being unforgiving or holding a grudge towards someone
Ephesians 4:26 “in your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”
This verse is very instructive. Before you pray at night (before the sun goes down) forgive those that have hurt you. Do not give the devil a foothold.
I am led to believe that Jesus did not feel emotional hurt because he practiced advanced forgiveness, that’s not to say he didn’t experience physical hurt.
What I am trying to say is that practicing advanced forgiveness will help remove emotional hurt, the type of hurt that corrupts the mind, the type of hurt that gives the devil a foothold. That is the type of hurt we should do battle against. Physical hurt is temporary, emotional hurt can last a life time.. Which hurt would you rather eradicate??