A trial of our personal faith just may come like this: Someone who is very close to us—a spouse, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a best friend—accuses us of a foul deed that we did not do. And this person lashes out and stabs us with sharp words that cause extreme heartache. And the wound causes our joy to evaporate, and our peace is invaded as chaos fills our mind. And we harden our thoughts to protect our heart from the attack. And as our defense builds, we marshal enough resolve to make sure this breach of trust will never happen again.
But as we assemble our spiritual defense, we are sowing the seeds of our own spiritual decline, for we have placed ourselves in the land of the unforgiving. We cannot forgive someone if we are preparing ourselves to not at any cost be hurt by them again. The irony is that we hurt ourselves by trying to prevent any more pain.
So we begin to dry up spiritually. We pray and ask God to help us, for we are losing our bearings and are sailing away from His harbor of peace. In desperation, we ask for forgiveness. “I’m sorry, Father. Forgive me for drifting away from you. Why have I done this, Father?”
And then He in a still small moment reveals the truth to us. “You want me to forgive you of this in your life. But I cannot until you forgive the one who hurt you.”
And then you realize why He told you to pray for that one who has despitefully used you. When you pray for them, you forgive them. As Christ said at His death: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” By asking the Father to forgive them, the Son showed that He was forgiving them. He also said that if we do not forgive each other, then the Father will not forgive us.
So the trial is not that we have been wounded by hateful words, but whether we will forgive that one who has hurt us. As we forgive, our heart changes, and we book passage out of the land of the unforgiving.
Kenneth Wayne Hancock