Forgiveness is not just a commitment of the will, but a surrendering of the heart and hurt to God. In other words, in order to begin the process of forgiveness you need to first decide to forgive, but then you also need to take the next step of grieving the sins committed against you. This doesn’t mean you complain or gossip to your friends about the person who hurt you. It doesn’t mean you throw yourself one big pity party. But it does mean you take a serious look at the hurt done to you.
Let me put it this way: God has created us with emotions that must be processed and released much like the process of digesting food. (Warning: the next sentence may gross out squeamish readers!) When we eat something our bodies must digest the food and move it along, using the good and discarding the bad or waste. That’s how we need to handle the hurt, angry, even bitter emotions we experience due to being offended. If we do not allow ourselves to grieve those specific offenses, then we are short-circuiting the process of grief and not learning the valuable lessons God wants us to glean from the hurtful experience. A less yucky metaphor might be that we are trying to cross the finish line before we’ve run the race.
The goal of grieving the offenses is to finally be able to surrender the offenses and losses you’ve experienced to God with a cleansed and trusting heart. If you are uncertain about how to grieve, the main thing is to assess the damage done and truly engage with the pain it has caused in your life. King David’s emotional Psalms are great examples of healthy grieving. A practical way to get your own grieving started is to use some of David’s journal writings as a springboard to what you might want to pray to God. The 55th and 56th chapters of Psalms are very descriptive of the grieving laments David often made to God–recounting the many sins committed against him. The 22nd verse of chapter 55 offers wise words that we all need to follow, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Don’t forget to watch for Truth #3–it’s coming up soon!