When an abused person forgives their abuser, or a parent forgives the person who murdered their child, most of us struggle to understand how that is possible. This type of faith and humility before God is only possible with God’s help.
These people are being obedient to God. They know their own sins are forgiven and they know God wants them to forgive others.
The verse above speaks of vengeance. But to let go of that desire for vengeance, you need to forgive in a Christian way. That means you turn them over to God. You trust that HE will take care of it.
I encourage you to read all of Romans 12. It ends with this: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This topic of forgiveness triggers people because most of us have been treated unjustly at one time or another. Forgiving doesn’t come naturally.
Why does God ask us to do this unnatural thing, forgive people who hurt us? Because it gives Him glory AND it sets us free from the trap of resentment that can lead to a hardened heart. And since the greatest commandment is to LOVE, we must not harden our hearts with unforgiveness.
It’s so easy to write that out, and so hard to do! But the reward and freedom you get from forgiving, or at least no longer seeking to avenge yourself and leaving it to God, is well worth the effort.
Why do I bring this up?
I believe that many of us feel abused by outside forces such as the government and ‘the rich’ and ‘capitalists’ and socialists and Covid and other races and religious groups and corporations and the medical system and the legal system and our next door neighbor and the kids in our class and our boss and our parents and even our own bodies. Not every feeling of oppression is true, but our political and economic system is a mess. Too many people are homeless, violence is rising, the job market for the unskilled workers is shrinking, and people feel hopeless about their futures.
This feeling of being victimized by outside forces we can’t control is very destructive and in some cases leads to violence. The more people feel out of control and victimized, the more violence and mental health problems will increase.
There is an epidemic of depression, self-harm, addiction, and suicide that can be a result of feeling helpless in the face of bullies, lack of control over one’s life, financial struggles despite working hard, inability to get help even when one asks for it and turning all that inward.
Those are real problems. Obviously the best solution would be to stop the abuse!
We need a new perspective on all this. A perspective of faith that God can change things better than we can on our own. People trying to create a perfect and equal society without God are the ones who created the current situation.
But in the meantime, we need to surrender those feelings of revenge, hate, and even self-hate, to God. Otherwise, we will self-destruct. We need to pray about the evil in the world and ask God to help us, and not let ourselves and our testimony be destroyed by it.
Some of us can’t even forgive a person on social media, a bad driver or a bad server in a restaurant, much less a serious injustice. How can we forgive someone we don’t know if we can’t even forgive our own family members? Can we forgive ourselves for not meeting our own expectations? What resentments and anger are you harboring right now? Do they comfort you? They are like sweet poison!
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” -original author of this quote is unknown
I know it sounds so hard to do and I know that many people are really suffering. But taking it to God is the only way to save yourself. And as you lay your hurt at His feet, ask God to help you find a way out of that situation. Then watch and see how He can change your situation!
How to Forgive with God’s help
- Trust that He loves you and will help you.
- Listen carefully and watch for unusual things to pop up, people calling you, new ideas in your mind.
- Take the next steps in faith!
- God will show you the way.
- Pray for help, but first, let go of the victim-thinking and desire for revenge.
- Confess your feelings of hate and unforgiveness and ask God to help you begin to think differently.
- Look for things to be thankful for even in the midst of the struggle.
- Watch as God begins to change your life and praise Him along the way.
- Tell others about your experience.
I think that if enough people were to begin to think like this we could start to change systemic problems. But right now there are many hurting people that believe the state or a particular candidate is going to avenge and protect them. They aren’t turning to God. Voting is important, but we need to pray for and financially support better candidates.
We have to stop looking to men and women in government and cry out to God. But first we must humble ourselves before Him and that starts with letting go of vengeance