God said there are no limits to forgiveness towards others or ourselves – and there is a common saying that forgive and forget without holding any grudge.
If you have experienced intensive hurt, been a victim of hate or abuse, lost loved ones to crime and violence or you have been treated unjustly, chances are, you have entertained unforgiveness.
Examine this scenario : Family member kidnapped, many chased from their homes, home and belongings destroyed, your life is threatened and thousands of your people or tribe members are killed and thousands more are displaced and have to live in makeshift camps as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). A good example is what happened in Kenya, in East Africa, when tribal violence occurred after the election results were announced in the year 2008 elections.
How does one come to terms with this degree of pain? Can you imagine witnessing such atrocities carried out by mighty forces? How do you even begin to deal with this state of horror.
It is a tough choice, yet difficult as it is, The Almighty in his divine wisdom has called upon His children to find it in their hearts to forgive. Forgive? Yes forgive. He also promised to walk you through it. Our finite minds cannot wrap itself around this concept but because many is more than physical we are more than conquers.
What is the meaning of forgiveness?
According to the dictionary, the word forgive
means “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for. To grant relief from payment.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition). “To give up desire to punish; stop being angry with” ( Webster’s New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition).
Why should I forgive – you may ask
I would suggest that you consider this : forgiveness brings healing while unforgiveness causes more pain. I am not saying that it is easy, but at some point you need to decide whether to continue to imprison yourself or to enjoy freedom.
If you have been hurt or you may have caused someone pain, I would like you to know that forgiveness is available to give and to receive.
So if you forgive, all you are doing is giving up you resentment ,anger, and desire to punish. But why should you forgive these things up? Because resentment and anger and the desire to revenge will hurt you more than they will hurt your enemy, and in fact can cause heart disease, cancer, and a host of other malaise. More subtly, and just as bad, resentment, anger and revenge can control you. They can steal your creative energy and indeed your time and attention, so that you deviate from your path in life and end up going out of this world without having the opportunity to establish the purpose for which you were born. With this in mind, one becomes much more motivated to forgive. But your motivation will increase even further when you consider the following.
Notice that nowhere in the definition of forgiveness is there any indication that you must be happy about, condone, or approve of what happened to you. You can in fact disapprove of and hate what happened to you. All you have to do is to let go of the resentment, anger, and the desire for the revenge that, in fact, cannot change the past or help in the future.
” Yes! Easier said than done,” You rightfully think. But here is some more motivation : There is justice in the universe, only, thank God, it’s not your job to meter it out.
Everyone pays dues
In my view, in the long run we can’t get away with anything in life. There is, it seems to me, and invisible law of nature that assures that somehow, in some way, in life everyone gets what is coming to him or her.
A psychological theory called ” psychological determinism ” introduced by Sigmund Freud proposes that each psychic event is determined by events that went before it. In other words, according to the theory, there is a psychological chain reaction to everything we do. The way I see it, this chain reaction can play a part in causing those who have committed misdeeds sooner or later to attract to themselves a punishment of sorts, in other words, a payback.
The Bible talked about this same principle way before the word psychology was coined. The Bible puts it this way, “reaping and sowing.” When a farmer plants sorghum, he expects to have sorghum grow up. He “sows” or plant a given seed and, being intelligent, he naturally expects to “reap” sorghum. The biblical teaching of reaping and sowing is just that simple. It indicates that a person will, in time, get exactly what his or her behaviour was merited. The biblical writer of Galatians 6:7 says: ” Be not deceaved; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
In short, there is a built-in, orderly system in life, says the biblical writer. Everyone will get what is coming to him or her in the long run. To quote Proverbs 26:27, “whoso digeth a pit shall fall therein; and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” Had the person not dug the pit with the aim of causing someone else a damage, he would be in no danger of falling into it himself, it is only because he took the action of digging the pit that he can possibly fall into it.
And he will fall into the pit, according to the proverb. But why? Probably because in his unconscious mind he feels guilty about having dug the pit with the intention of harming someone else. It may be that this guilt, demanding relief in the form of punishment, causes him to stumble into the pit himself, something like the impulse that prompts the criminal to return to the scene of the crime, and get caught.
The second part of the proverb is a repetition of the first, a reaffirmation of the idea of self-punishment caused by the unconscious guilt one has for misdeeds. If you roll a stone with the intention of harming someone, the stone will eventually roll back on you. Drug dealers often die violently at the hands of other drug dealers in the process of committing a crime. Those who physically, sexually, and/or mentally abuse others, like in the case of Post Election Violence in Kenya in the year 2008, (mentioned above), may suffer psychological torture all of their lives, and so on.
But why, exactly does this self-punishment system work psychologically? Psychologists like Franz Alexander believe that one hypnotises oneself for punishment, so as to balance the scales. It is almost as if one cannot relax or breathe easy until those scales are balanced – despite the fact that balancing those scales must mean self-punishment. In other words, it may well be true that it is impossible to hurt others without hurting oneself. Like the analog of a prisoner in a chain-gang who cannot push another prisoner away without hurting himself.
Could there be an unwritten law implanted within the minds of men and women, a law that insurers justice? It would be amazing if it were as simple as that? I believe that psychologists and biblical writers have hit the nail right on the head. The fact that it is not your job to get revenge. Romans 12:19 says, ” Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” This is a liberating idea! We don’t have to do the job. We can allow ourselves to be releaved from the burden of resentment and anger. Justice will be done – and we don’t have to be the ones to meter it out.
Think of all these spiritually, think of it psychologically, but think of it: You don’t have to waste your precious energy hating and holding grudges. It is much healthier and much more productive to let it go and believe that there is a built-in justice in the universe. I believe that in the long run, everyone gets what is coming to him or her.