It Takes Strength To Forgive

Would you like to have happiness in your life?  Who would not want that?  Do you think it may be related to your ability to forgive someone? How about a person’s ability to apologize for a wrong done, to another person?  Do you suppose that letting go could play a part? How so?  Am I merely talking about the forgiveness of sin?

Yes, I do have joy in the forgiveness of my sins; however, it doesn’t stop there.  There is more to it then, you may think!

Did you read the meme? I am currently reading through the Bible in One Year – 2017 by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel.  Who is Nicky Gumbel? Nicky Gumbel is Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), an Anglican church in central London.

The Bible in One Year is a daily devotional and a reading plan.  You can find out more at their website, The other day, Nicky was sharing his insights on the day’s reading and the topic is “relationship”. At one point, Nicky gives the following quote:

Forgiveness sometimes takes great courage but it restores relationships and brings great joy. It is said that, ‘The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.’

The above quote caught my attention. As the movie, “The Shack” was coming out on March 3rd, I could not help but notice the timing. The central theme of Paul Young’s “The Shack” is forgiveness and it’s a powerful message. I’d definitely recommend it.  Forgiveness?  How is that related to happiness?

The focus of this article is the above quote.  Shall we break it down?  First, I will point out that Nicky is not the author of the famous quote; rather he and I are merely repeating it.  There are good reasons for it.  For one, it really does take courage to apologize to someone; especially if the person is pissed at you.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone’s blistering anger?  The temptation to run and seek shelter can be quite great.  For others, the temptation is to go the other way, retaliate.  I have been on the receiving end of someone’s anger. The photo of the T-Rex chasing the little

The photo of the T-Rex chasing the little trike seems to fit.   It’s definitely not a fun endeavor. I found this little gem on a Google image search and it came from someone in the PlayArk subreddit.  Does this photo describe your experience with an angry person? It does depict the experiences that I’ve had. I can still recall the pains of experiencing such anger.

Then again, I have been on the other side. Yes, I was the T-Rex chasing the little dinosaur or goat! Did I not say that we are prone to react in one of two ways? For some people, it is to run in sheer terror. For others, it is to react in fury.  I am not proud of my anger and it is why I don’t like losing control of it.

Image result for Takes courage to say sorryFor this reason, it truly takes a great deal of courage to apologize; even if you are right.  Why? It requires humility and the swallowing of one’s pride.  What if, the person is furious at me?  If you can say to an angry T-Rex then you definitely have a lot more courage than you may think.  Fortunately, I know of one who can help.  Perhaps, you have heard of him.  His name is Jesus.

Don’t be afraid to ask God, for help.  All you have to do is ask! Why? It is because God is a good Father and he cares for you and the other person.  In Hebrews 13:5, followers of Christ are reminded of God’s promise to never leave or forsake us.  The point is, you are not alone.

There are two other components to the above quote.  The second part is “The first to forgive is the strongest”.  Have you ever been hurt by someone that you respected? I have been in such a situation.  What do I mean?

My goal in the following story is to illustrate the point that it does take strength to forgive someone.

For the past few years, I have been following a popular YouTube personality.  He’s actually a good-hearted young man and hee works very hard to put out quality YouTube videos. John is a Christian and he has a heart for entertain people through comedic game playing. He and his friends have been a great source of help during a time of emotional rollercoaster.

Some time ago, I had a very unpleasant situation with the young man.  I found out some personal information and I was careless. John was rightly angry with me.  Frankly, I don’t blame him. My heart was grieved by my actions and I sought to apologize to him.  Did not Jesus say in Matt 5:23-24:

23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Though I was quick to ask for forgiveness; the young man’s anger was still brewing and John may have needed space.  A couple of months later, I heard about a charity stream on John’s Twitch stream.  As the young man was supporting this children related charity stream; I was eager to help.

I could readily see that John was having serious trouble. Someone was attacking his stream. The person did not care, who is hurt. The attacker was simply going after a big name YouTuber. As John has over a million subscribers, the stream was pack.  It was hard to keep track of who was saying what.

As the barrage of attacks continued, John began losing control of his anger.  At one point, I chipped in my donation to the cause. I’ve even left a message stating it. I would quickly regret doing anything. It seems that a straw is broken and John exploded in rage.

It seems I was being confused for some kind of stalker or the hackers, who was attacking him. I was deeply hurt by his words. I simply wanted to help with the children. I wasn’t just hurt by John’s words; my anger was coming to a boil, too.  However, I chose not to retaliate.  At one point, John left the stream and the chat continued on, without him.

Though I was angry and hurting, I chose to forgive John. The chat was still active and I could have blasted the angry young man.  I don’t think he’d have liked his real name exposed to the public or any other personal information.  As a blogger, I was not limited to a stream on Twitch.  By the way, I was not the only person, who was hurting.

It takes strength, to forgive someone and to not retaliate in anger. Thankfully, I stayed to help calm things down.  I knew that I wasn’t the only one. Some of his fans were upset and shaken up by the whole thing. The next morning, I angrily confronted John through his YouTube channel’s inbox.

The next morning, I angrily confronted John through his YouTube channel’s inbox.  I honestly wished that I could have done a better job. Did you see the photo? I could only pray for the young man and I needed to trust God to help John.  After all, God does love John, too.

I honestly wish that I could rewrite the above story. For one, John would come out smelling like a rose and have the strength to let go of his anger and quickly forgive.  He most certainly would have made a fool of the hackers and not lose his temper.  I’d probably keep my part, the same.

Are you having trouble with forgiving someone?  I would encourage you, to seek God’s help.  If it was easy then, it would not take strength to forgive someone.  Would it?

N0, it takes a great deal of strength to forgive someone; especially if the person is still hurting.  Yet, it is not always easy and prayer is a powerful help in this department.  Why is forgiveness so crucial to happiness?  Did you read the above photo? Isn’t time to let go and forgive the offending party?

How about the last component?  The first to let go is the happiest!  By now, the answer should be pretty obvious.  If you chose to forgive and let go, then you are opening the door to healing.  Don’t let your anger, resentment or bitterness consume you.  In Leviticus 19:18, God says something quite similar:

18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Could it be that God knew of the destructive nature of grudges?  Yes, it is why God gave the above instruction.  Are you willing to listen; even if you are not a believer in Christ?  Surrender the offense to God and let Jesus deal with it.

Why are you letting your pride keep you from inner peace? Why not ask Jesus into your heart and let him help you?  That is what Jesus did for me, so long ago.  He did not just come to deal with my sins; Jesus came and helped me, with the pains of my heart.  What about you?

Barry Brindisi

Author of "You Are Not A Lesser Human".


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