By Gena Barnhill @BarnhillGena
Lie: I can’t forgive those who hurt me.
Truth: I can forgive because Christ has forgiven me (Ephesians 4:32).
Are you familiar with the inspiring story of Corrie ten Boom? Corrie’s incredible journey of forgiveness is a compelling reminder of the transformative power of God’s grace. It empowers us to forgive, no matter how deep our wounds may be. Let’s follow Corrie’s example and dispel the lie I can’t forgive those who hurt me.
Corrie witnessed and suffered unimaginable atrocities during her time in Ravensbuck, a German World War II concentration camp. And yet, she refuted the lie I can’t forgive those who hurt me. After the war, she traveled and devoted her life to sharing the news of God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus.
During one of her speeches in a church in Munich, a man approached her—a man she recognized as one of the cruelest guards from the concentration camp. Thrusting his hand out, he complimented her on her message of forgiveness and said he had become a Christian. Although he believed God had forgiven him for his brutality, he asked Corrie to forgive him.
At that moment, horrific images flooded her memory. Corrie remembered the shame of walking naked in front of this guard. Disturbing flashbacks of the camp’s deplorable conditions and her frail sister’s slow and painful death were imprinted in her mind.
Corrie struggled with forgiving this man who had caused tremendous pain and suffering. She knew God required her to forgive, but her heart felt cold. Corrie understood forgiveness was not a feeling, but an act of her will. Knowing she could not do it alone, she silently asked Jesus to help her forgive. She mechanically pressed her hand into his. A current of healing warmth flowed through their joined hands. She had never felt God’s love as intensely as she did then. With the help of the Holy Spirit, she was able to forgive the man with all her heart.1I Can't Forgive Those Who Hurt Me #forgiveness #healing Click To Tweet
Corrie’s experience demonstrates forgiveness is possible, even in the most challenging circumstances. When we choose to forgive, we release the power our offenders and their actions have over us. We let go of bitterness and resentment and allow the Lord to heal our hearts.
The apostle Paul offers powerful examples of forgiveness. Despite enduring numerous cruelties, beatings, and imprisonment as an apostle, Paul chose not to embrace bitterness or dwell on his past. In Philippians 3:13–14, he conveyed his commitment to forget what lies behind and press ahead. Forgiveness released him from the burden of the past, allowed him to move on with his life. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
We have heard people say they cannot forgive because:
Forgiveness is not about whether the offenders deserve it. We are charged to forgive others. Even though we do not deserve His grace, our heavenly Father forgives us, according to Matthew 6:14–15. Withholding forgiveness leaves us open to the enemy’s schemes and hinders our healing and relationship with the Lord.
Forgiving someone does not mean what they did was okay or even acceptable, and it does not excuse any harm done. We are not minimizing the pain and suffering caused by their actions. Instead, forgiveness empowers us to let go of our need for retaliation and give the situation and the offender to the Lord for His judgment.
Forgiveness does not require reconciliation with offenders. The offenders do not need to know they were forgiven. Forgiveness benefits the person offended. Reconciliation requires the action of the offenders, but we do not have control over them. Forgiveness depends on us regardless of what the offender does.
With the Lord’s help, you can forgive those who have harmed and maligned you, just as Corrie and Paul did. Reject the lie I can’t forgive those who hurt me. When we forgive, we cut individuals loose from the power they hold over us. We refuse to let bitterness and hatred take root in our hearts. Instead, we ask the Lord to take charge of the offenders and the situation, trusting in His perfect wisdom and justice.
When you extend forgiveness, you open the door to healing and restoration, allowing God’s grace to work. Releasing our feelings about a past hurt can take time, but forgiveness itself is a choice and an action.
Decide to Forgive. The path to forgiveness begins with a decision to release the pain and resentment caused by the offense and give it to Jesus. When we make this decision, anguish from the hurtful event no longer controls us, and we acknowledge our desire for the Lord’s healing and restoration.
Overcome the Pain. Forgiveness does not erase the hurtful memory, but it empowers us to ask Jesus to heal the associated pain. He will heal the painful memory when we ask Him. Sometimes He reveals information about the situation that we were unaware of as He restores us.
Invite God’s Healing Presence. We are not required to forgive in our power. Instead, we invite God’s healing presence to help us release and forgive our offenders and mend our broken hearts.
Trust in His Love and Grace. Trust God to take care of the hurtful situation with His love and grace. Although it may be difficult to forgive when we feel betrayed, we can trust God to guide each step toward a place of freedom and peace once we surrender our desire for revenge.
Forgiveness is a process, and each step of the acrostic “DO IT” is needed to experience the fullness of forgiveness. It is not a one-time event but a continuous and intentional choice to extend grace and mercy to ourselves and others. When Peter asked Jesus if we should forgive others seven times in Matthew 18:21–22, Jesus answered, “I do not say seven times, but seventy-seven times.” The implication is we need to forgive many times.
Just as Corrie ten Boom and Apostle Paul demonstrated, forgiveness sets us free from the shackles of bitterness and opens the door to a life of abundant love, joy, and peace. So, reject the lie I can’t forgive those who hurt me and “DO IT” with courage and faith, knowing God’s supernatural power is available when you choose forgiveness.
1Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (NY: The Berkley Publishing Group 1974), 53-55.
Now it is your turn. Have you asked Jesus to help you forgive those who hurt and maligned you? If not, what are your next steps?
Be sure to leave your thoughts on our Facebook Group Healing Prayer Discussion.