In life, there’s really no way to avoid being hurt. Someone, at some point, is going to let you down, disappoint you, or make you angry. They may even do it on purpose.
When these situations happen, it’s easy to get angry, resentful, and refuse to forgive the person who wronged you. It’s been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Not only does unforgiveness hinder your relationship with other people due to stress and anger, it also impacts your relationship with God.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
Consider these four ways to help you forgive someone, even when it’s not easy:
1. Make a decision
Forgiveness is more about just saying, “God, I forgive this person.” It’s a decision you make, and it’s not an easy one. It may be uncomfortable and even painful, but the reward of going through it will be worth any pain you’ve experienced.
2. Depend on God
Luckily, we’re not alone and this isn’t a process we have to handle on our own. But it requires living with a prayerful attitude. It’s important to remember, some days you may have to ask God for the strength to continue forgiving the person. It’s easy to allow anger and resentment to creep back in. So, you may find yourself saying “Lord, help me to not be offended today,” and that’s okay.
3. Understand your emotions
Understand that your feelings will probably need time to catch up with your decision to forgive. Think about it, when somebody hurts you, the first thing you may want to do is tell them off. Your feelings and the need to forgive may be telling you different things. Immediately forgiving someone doesn’t mean you’ll automatically stop being angry. Give it time.
4. Pray for your enemies
Yes, I know it’s hard. But God isn’t calling us to pray for our enemies because He’s punishing us. It’s truly for our benefit.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
By praying for these enemies, you’re allowing yourself to love the person the way Jesus loves them, and the way we’re all called to love. Remember, He calls us to love everyone – not like them. That’s up to you.
Remember, forgiving someone isn’t the same as forgetting what they did. It also doesn’t give them permission to hurt you again. But by forgiving them, by releasing them to Jesus, you’re allowing yourself a life of freedom. Forgive.