How do you deal with the pain when you’ve been hurt by someone? We struggle with the idea of forgiveness, especially when we are in so much pain. I believe you and I are able to find a powerful example of forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Christ that can give us hope. I want to share three things with you about the example Jesus gives us to follow when we are hurt by others.
First, on the night of the last supper, Jesus had a teaching moment with the disciples. He was trying to convey that even with forgiveness, you must decide how you will deal with the people who hurt you. Are you going to be a victim? Are you going to be angry and bitter or can you choose to forgive? Jesus was showing that he had the power to choose to forgive rather than being bitter. Even as he is dying, Jesus shows that he will choose to forgive rather than being bitter when he speaks these three words, “Father, forgive them.”
Second, it’s important to understand that no matter how much we wish we could, you and I cannot control the actions of others. What we can control is how we react and respond; we can control whether or not we will seek revenge. Jesus was on the cross at the hands of one of his best friends who denied him, religious authorities telling lies about him and his government who persecuted him. He had every reason imaginable to be angry, to seek revenge. There’s no question that the example he leaves for you and I is a powerful one. Even from the cross Jesus knows he cannot control the actions of others, so he chooses to control how he will respond and he responds in love saying, “Father, forgive them.”
Third, I think it’s important to embrace the reality that you cannot change what has been done, but you can control how you respond. You can decide whether you seek revenge or choose to lay it down. Even though you can’t take back the words or actions of others, Christ can give you the strength to decide how to go forward from here. You can be angry and bitter or you can choose to lay down that spiritual weight. It is the grace of Christ who gives us strength and hope for tomorrow. This really is the promise of Christ; a sense of forgiveness and the strength to decide to lay down the anger and move forward.