I do not know about you, but I have discovered that being on the receiving end of forgiveness is easier than having to forgive others.
The difficulty arises most often when I am asked to extend forgiveness.
A woman badly hurt me a few years ago. She said hurtful things about me, and her words cut deeply. When I was a young girl, we used to smugly sing, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But, boy, is that untrue!
To be honest, it took me a while to work through the betrayal and disappointment of that situation. Getting to a place of forgiveness was very difficult.
God’s grace prevents our hurts and disappointments from turning our hearts to poison.
God reminded me of Joseph in the Bible (Genesis 37–50). Joseph had lots of reasons not to extend grace. His brothers despised him, threw him in a pit, abandoned him, and sold him to Egyptians. His master wrongfully imprisoned him, and largely forgot him.
But God’s grace was extended to him, and eventually Joseph was released from prison and elevated to the position of second in command in Egypt.
Even more amazing is the forgiveness Joseph extended to his brothers when they were finally reunited.
Joseph responded to their repentance by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph did something brave: he mercifully forgave his brothers, who despised him and abandoned him to die.
Likewise, when we are hurt by the actions of others, we can draw on the grace that God has lavished on us to give to others.
Today, my heart has finally healed from my painful relationship.
Even more so, I am grateful for the chance to extend forgiveness and grace to others as our gracious Father does for us.
*For further reflection, listen to Ephesians 4.
- Ecclesiastes 4