Access our old website at archive.chalcedon.edu Visit Archive
Article

When It's Hard to Forgive

Yes, in time you will forgive those who have hurt you. God's gift of time has a healing salve in it by which forgetting and forgiving actually do twin up.

  • J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Share this

You've been axed. The ones you gave your blood to have now tied you to the tree. You are not suffering this alone; your family is being laid upon the tree as well. And your clan, too — on both sides. Yep. It's not a very pretty picture, is it?

Further, all this mayhem has been set loose in your heart after serving others for quite awhile — slapping those colleagues on the back at coffee clusters, being on time with reports, showing up for meetings that were so ho-hum that you wondered if comatose were not a better state of being, and so forth and so forth.

So then comes along Mr. Sunny Side of the Street who tells you to chin up and forgive those who have just put the knife between the third and fourth ribs.

Of course he knows he has God, the Bible, saints of all ages, and a lot more than that on his logical side. The truth is: he does. He is right. Absolutely right.

But what Mr. Sunny Side of the Street does not have in his brain wave is the flat fact that you are not dealing at the moment so much with logic as you are with emotion — feelings, indescribable depression and loneliness, and such utter confusion so that your thoughts jam one another.

Now with that flat fact recognized, let's ask Mr. Sunny Side to take a long walk in the other direction. Later we can talk to him. But not right now.

Right now we have to deal with your mortality, your fragile emotional structure, your tipsy-topsy nerve system, your extremely sensitive personality because God made you to be one of those server-giver types who lays himself / herself out for the world to walk all over. We are dealing with that personhood component that has antennae out there near Mars — emotions.

And emotions don't heal overnight with a straight to head talk about ethics. So get this into your healing stream if you can: Go easy on yourself when it comes to being a bit tardy in forgiving the enemy. Jesus did it. He was stapled to the tree and prayed for the Father to forgive the rats for the rats didn't know what they were doing. Fine. But the difference between Jesus and you is that Jesus was not only human but also deity; you are pure, plain and simple human. That's it.

And in your humanness you have time frames to deal with. Those time frames demand being paid attention to. They just don't buck up and go on. They have to disseminate, filter out, ponder, cry over and then think through some more and then cry some more and then rant and rave and then pray and then stop praying.

Get the message? I surely do hope so.

It's like when you are sick with cancer and a well meaning but confused-in-the-dome believer tells you that Jesus will heal you. Of course, Jesus can heal you; but that doesn't mean that Jesus will heal you. In other words, you have been given wrong advice.

When your head is rolling on the ground because enemies have crucified you and your family, the last person you need to side up to your heart is someone on the sunny side of the street who presently is having quite a fun time of it — just in time for him to tell you to forgive the foes who stabbed you.

Yes, in time you will forgive them. In fact, it will become quite easy to forgive them for God's gift of time has a healing salve in it by which forgetting and forgiving actually do twin up. Yes they do. But you have to allow the divine gift of time to do its medicinal work. To push it, like any medicinal regime, is to ask for trouble, sometimes halting the healing, sometimes going into regression.

So go easy on yourself when being slaughtered as the lamb brought to the knife. Go easy easy, easy on yourself. Permit those emotions to blast out, fall flat, fly up and down, crush you, spring up to the clouds, and then finally, ever so gradually, level off.

In that, the leveling off time frame, you will find the grace by which to begin to forgive. Begin to forgive. For that will take its own time frame, each being individual according to our individual personalities.

But be assured, if you live on the earth long enough, God's time gift will heal. And in that healing time frame, you will forgive. Yes you will.


  • J. Grant Swank, Jr.
More by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Building kingdom

Keep up with Chalcedon

Subscribe for ministry news, updates, articles, and more.

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.