Forgiveness

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Psalm 32:1

For as long as I can remember, forgiveness has been my absolute favourite theme. I still have to cry when I read the account of Joseph forgiving his brothers, despite all their cruelty to him. I wonder if he had decided in advance to forgive them or whether compassion simply ruled over any hard feelings and the love of God overshadowed his resentment. Here in this relief, which is part of the permanent exhibit at the Bible Society in Jerusalem, this moment of forgiveness is beautifully captured as it conveys the immense depth of emotion Joseph must have felt as he embraced his brothers.

On a more modern note, my next story of forgiveness and redemption is found in the pages of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Here we find the hardened and embittered protagonist Jean Valjean overwhelmed by an act of forgiveness by a bishop who could have chosen to have him locked up in prison and yet, by extending a hand of mercy he transforms Valjean’s life. Here you can watch an excerpt of this moving scene.

Thirdly, I cannot think or reflect on forgiveness without recalling the powerful story of Corrie ten Boom, one of my heroes of the faith. While in the Ravensbrück concentration camp her sister Betsie convinced her that “there is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” In the subsequent decades following her release from the camp she travelled worldwide to bring the message of forgiveness and the love of God to her audiences. At one point she encountered a former prison guard from Ravensbrück, and similar to the bishop in Les Misérables, Corrie was able to extend her hand in an act of forgiveness.

„When Jesus tells you to love your enemies, He gives you the love He demands from you. “
Corrie ten Boom

It’s been said that forgiveness sounds good until you have someone you need to forgive. And while this is certainly true and the real challenge comes when we need to forgive someone who has hurt or betrayed us, I am confident that His love can equip us to forgive no matter how deep the hurt and we can subsequently experience the ensuing freedom that comes from not holding anything against anyone. After all, when we recall God’s love for us despite our failings and shortcomings, perhaps we will be more inclined in turn to forgive others.

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so so kind to me

Dear Lord,
In light of Your great and reckless love for me, help me today and always to be able to forgive others and not hold any grudges for things done to me. Give me the capacity to give and to receive forgiveness, knowing that it sets me and others free.
In Jesus’ name, Amen

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