Imagine if Jesus were here with us today, walking and talking with us like old friends, or sitting with us on a park bench. We would ask him all our questions, and he would answer them with love and wisdom. One of the most important questions we could ask is how we can truly forgive ourselves and others.
Jesus, you tell us in Luke 23:24 that as you hung from the cross, dying from the pain we humans had inflicted on you hours earlier, one of your last recorded statements was to ask the Holy Father for forgiveness for us. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:31–32 that we must eliminate all bitterness, rage, and anger, be compassionate and kind to one another, and forgive as Jesus forgave us. But how do we do this? For some of us, it’s easier said than done.
I know in my heart and logical brain that forgiveness plays a crucial role in our lives, especially when dealing with anger and resentment. However, there are certain situations where it can be challenging to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
For instance, when we face circumstances beyond our control, we may feel helpless and frustrated. It can be challenging to move on from these experiences and forgive those who might have contributed to them somehow.
Similarly, we often encounter situations where we try to do the right thing but find that everything seems to stay the same, leaving us disillusioned and questioning its purpose. This can make extending forgiveness to those who have caused us pain challenging.
Moreover, there are times when we witness terrible tragedies, such as the death of a baby or a family involved in a car accident, that leave us wondering why bad things happen to good people. It can be challenging to forgive those who have caused such immense pain and suffering.
In these situations, it is easy to feel lost and uncertain about how to extend forgiveness. We may wonder how we can forgive the drunken driver who caused the accident or the doctor who failed to heal us. These questions can leave us feeling overwhelmed and needing clarification.
As we navigate these challenging moments, we may turn to the word of God for guidance and await the day when we can ask you, Jesus, for the answers.
I have been deeply reflecting on the teachings of the Bible. In my search for answers to a persistent question, I found hope in the grace mentioned in Matthew 6:14. This passage reminds me of the importance of forgiveness. It encourages me to forgive those who wronged me, knowing God will forgive me for my transgressions. Furthermore, I turn to Colossians 3:13 to remind myself of the importance of compassion, grace and love in my relationships with others. I am grateful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and I pray for the strength to forgive those who have hurt me and to show others the power of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I also searched through the reformed confessions and came across the Heidelberg Catechism to see if it would clarify my questions that I cannot ask you except through my prayers.
Lord’s Day 21 Q & A 56
Q. What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
A. I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no longer remember any of my sins1
or my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life.2
Rather, by grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ
to free me forever from judgment.3
So, as I ponder what I would ask you, dear Jesus, when we meet, I hope we get to walk together and that you will indulge all my questions and give me the answers you say in the Scriptures that you will, as you are the way, the truth and the life.
Reflecting upon the concept of forgiveness, I am reminded that it is not always easy to pardon others or ourselves. However, when I turn to you, Jesus, I am humbled by your sacrifice and compassion. I wonder how we could ever deserve such love.
I cannot help but think of the day when you were in immense pain, exhausted, torn, and discouraged, yet you still asked the Heavenly Father for forgiveness. Your selflessness has taught me that forgiveness is an act of love and compassion. By striving to follow your example and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I can only hope that my ability to forgive others. Myself can be even a fraction of the love that you gave for me and all of us.
Jesus, I seek your wisdom on how to forgive myself and others. Although I do not have all the answers yet, my exploration of the topic and reading of the Bible has revealed that forgiveness is an act of love and compassion, not only for those who have wronged us but also for our participation in wrongdoing. Sometimes we are not even aware of the harm we have caused others, and even those who watched you carry the cross without intervening later viewed their silence as a sin against God. Yet, you forgave them. You forgave those who followed orders without question and even those who schemed and plotted your demise. Time and time again, I am reminded that forgiveness is an act of sacrifice, grace, mercy, and love, even though emotions of anger, grief, and malice may arise when we have been wronged.
We are never entirely free from the burden of our mistakes or the pain we have inflicted on others. However, through forgiveness, we can experience the love and mercy of the Heavenly Father, who forgives us anew each day.
As we walk and talk together, I am filled with hope that I will find the answers I seek. While I wait for your guidance, I will continue my search for truth as you define it in the Scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit, whom you gave me to help me be closer to you without you physically here. I am determined to grow in your likeness and image, Jesus, and I pray for the Spirit to guide me with love as I desire to be more like you and be willing and able to give and receive forgiveness as you so gracefully show us through your sacrifice on the cross.
By Amanda Mason