Have you ever been hurt by someone? If you’re over the age of 3, then I’m fairly confident your answer is, “Yes”. And that’s because we’ve all been hurt by the folks around us. Whether it’s through their words, or actions, or lack of action, it’s all-too-easy for people to hurt us. And the pain seems even worse when it comes from someone close to us - like family, or friends, or fellow Christians.
Often when we’re hurt, our natural, human reaction is to become angry, or bitter, or disillusioned, or to seek revenge. And waiting for the offender to make things right is usually futile because the offender either doesn’t realize the damage they’ve done through their words or actions, or they simply don’t care. So it’s the injured person who ends up carrying the hurt.
But Jesus gives us a better way to handle the pain others inflict on us. As He hung on the cross dying, He said: “Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) In other words, we’re called to walk down a one-way street of forgiveness.
Here’s what I mean - when Jesus asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him, they hadn’t asked for forgiveness. But even in his agonizing physical and emotional pain, Jesus was pleading for their forgiveness, despite all the injury they were inflicting without remorse. This is not a casual forgiveness - this a completely selfless forgiveness, which doesn’t take it back when the emotion changes.
That’s what we’re called to do as well. We’re called to forgive others, even if they don’t ask, and even if they don’t care about the hurt they’ve inflicted on us. Does this mean we aren’t called to talk through hurts and problems? Not at all. It means that we don’t wait for the offender to realize what they’ve done and ask for forgiveness before following Jesus’ example of extending forgiveness. And when we do this - when we release our hurt to God, and let Him heal us - He will be faithful to lift the burden of hurt and pain that we’re carrying with us, and we will be free to serve Him, and love others the way He’s called us to love them.
So today, let’s stop walking down Bitterness Road and Betrayal Lane. Instead, let’s take a turn on to Forgiveness Way. Let’s follow Jesus’ example of forgiving even when it’s not asked for, and even when it’s not deserved. And let’s do so remembering that there’s no going back because forgiveness is a one-way street.