“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis
Betrayal. Abuse. Slander. A cold shoulder. A rude comment. We’ve all experienced pain at the hand of another. And we’ve all been faced with a choice: will I hang on to this wound, deep as it may be, and let it fester and turn into bitterness, or will I forgive this offense and experience the Lord’s healing grace and freedom? Those are really our only two choices. There is no middle ground.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest commands in Scripture to obey. As C.S. Lewis said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” We know we should do it, we know it’s what God commands, and yet it’s just so hard.
I’ve mentioned how extending forgiveness is one of the essentials to finding true health and happiness, both spiritually and physically. When we hang on to anger, bitterness, and resentment, our relationship with the Lord and others suffers. Our physical health suffers as well.
The Lord is continuously teaching me to be a forgiving person. He has used a number of resources, the main one being His Word. Let me mention three other books that have had a tremendous impact on my life by helping me learn to forgive.
Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss – Nancy is an incredible Bible teacher and ministers to thousands of women through her radio and book ministry. Nancy shows how forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. When we choose to obey and forgive, realizing how much God has forgiven us, we experience His blessings and joy as a result. As in all her books, Nancy has excellent diagnostic questions at the end of each chapter to probe deep into the heart and get to the root of any unforgiveness.
Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts by Anne Graham Lotz – Anne is the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and shares his heart for reaching out to people with the Gospel. In this excellent book, Anne addresses the specific issue of being hurt by people within the church. She shares personal heartaches that she and her husband endured at the hands of other church members, as well as stories of others who have been betrayed by other Christians. This really should be required reading for every church member as it helps us navigate the sometimes complicated relationships we experience within the church and gives hope from the Scriptures on how to love, forgive, and overcome evil with good.
When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts: Discover the Healing and Wholeness God Has for You by Cindi McMenamin – Cindi is one of my favorite authors, because her love for Christ always shines through in her writing. In this powerful book, she uses stories of women who have faced unthinkable tragedies in their lives and how they were brought to a place of healing and joy because they learned to forgive and trust God’s purpose in their pain. With a practical “Let the Healing Continue” section full of questions, Scriptures, and applications, each chapter takes us on a step toward healing and wholeness. This book thoroughly addresses the pains we face and points us to our all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God. This is my “go-to” book to give to women who are struggling with forgiveness from past or present wounds or who are struggling with seeing God’s goodness in the midst of their pain. I highly recommend!
Two autobiographies worth mentioning where forgiveness is the common theme are The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Stormie: A Story of Forgiveness and Healing by Stormie Omartian. Both are page-turners that uniquely tell of intense suffering at the hands of others and God’s amazing work in their lives to use them to bring Him glory and minister to many through their stories.
Are you struggling to forgive and move past the hurts in your life? I encourage you to look to the Lord, look to His Word, and seek additional help from one or more of these life-changing resources. Healing and wholeness are awaiting you as you surrender the pain in your life to an all-powerful, all-loving God and forgive as He has forgiven you.