“How often shall I forgive?” (Mt. 18:21)
Forgiveness is a spiritual feat. Forgiveness is grace. Grace cannot be hoarded, stowed away, or home grown. Grace has one fountain and that fountain is somewhere in the heart of God. In forgiveness we become a channel, a riverbed, a wadi, through which the goodness of God runs down, gurgling, bubbling, and springing up with living water to irrigate parched earth. Without forgiveness life becomes an arid desert in which nothing good grows. Therefore, I must forgive. I must allow God’s living water to pour down and pour in, covering the rocks and stones of a hundred hurts, covering them as only grace can if there is any hope for the land to become green again.
A wounded spirit is more likely (in flesh) to call down fire from the heavens, and that would only make things more barren (Lk. 9:55). A broken heart (of human nature) is more likely to curse than to bless. An angry soul is more likely to ask God to withhold the rain and pray that the enemy's crops would wither. Jesus said we must forgive. A good God allows His rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
A soul that refuses to forgive is one that secretly prays for drought, and in so doing becomes dry and cracked itself. Joy wilts and the blooms turn brown and the harvest never comes. How much better to forgive.
When we are hurt by wrong done to us, a gaping fissure opens up in the earth that divides the land and makes our life smaller. And with so many opportunities to be hurt here in this world, our life is in danger of breaking up like an ice pack in an Artic spring. The life that lives on such an ice flow finds its world getting smaller and smaller everyday. So it is with a man who will not forgive. Each offense cracks the ground under his feet as if the huge tectonic plates of the earth slip apart. Deep ravines open up after such an earthquake and neighbors are separated and neighborhoods divided. The fissures between the Palestinian and Israel are as deep as man’s heart is dark. Walls only make it darker.
When the earth cracks open, we may not be able to move things back in place. The earth and world are too large for that. Neither can we fill in the great giant crevices caused by wrongs, for they are too deep. We can build bridges however to reconnect the land. We can, by forgiveness, refuse to allow our lives to become little. We can understand why the Kurd cannot forgive the Turk. They do not have Jesus and they do not know grace. But I know grace, for I have been forgiven by God. I have been given so much of God’s forgiveness that I must become the channel through which others might know it as well. We must forgive. If we don’t, we become smaller. We become drier. Every wrong may become a tombstone for a dead relationship unless we forgive. Without forgiveness we may soon be living in a grave yard, and like the Gadarian among the tombs, forfeit real happiness. On the other hand, we can see our hurt as a moral challenge of the heart to allow the glue of grace to join the broken pieces of life and refuse to be less than God has meant us to be. Do you want to know the power of God in your life? Then forgive. You may say you can't. We can, we must, especially when we can't. It is then we witness one of God's awesome powers at work. God can. Forgiveness is the power of God.