The Secret to Forgiveness

I was acutely aware of everything going on in my body.  My hands were shaking.  I was breathing hard.  My stomach was rebelling.  I was hot and cold all at once.  I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to run away, I wanted to curl up in a ball.  

I looked over at the man kneeling beside the bed, crying and begging forgiveness.  I held in one hand my desperate love for him and our life together and my faith and my beliefs about marriage.  In the other hand I held hurt and contempt.  My heart started to go out to him and feel sorry for him.  

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I desperately wanted to stop that.  If there was ever a time in life to be selfish and not think about the other person’s feelings, this was it, I reasoned.  I deserved at least a few hours of holding my anger, right?

But he kept asking me the question.  Will you forgive me?  My old nature wrestled against the new.  I did not want to forgive.  Certainly not yet.  Not just minutes after finding out.

That’s when I learned the secret to forgiveness.  The big secret.  The one we don’t talk about a lot.

You can’t.

Yup.  You can’t do it.  I can’t do it.  Its too hard.  We’re too selfish.  Too proud.  Its against our nature.  And I just plain didn’t want to.

But 30 seconds later, I took his hand and said yes.  Why?

Because God.

Because what I couldn’t do, what I didn’t want to do, what my old nature was struggling against, God could.

Sometimes we hear verses like Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, and we relegate them to the back of our mind.  We treat them as simple, for children, or new christians, or Sunday school.  Like a little chant, instead of the powerful help that it is.  

If I can do all things through Christ, then I can forgive.  But then the inverse must also be true.  I can do nothing without Him.  Especially the hard things, the big things.

II Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

This can be another verse that we quote so easily and then quickly forget about the truths within.  But this verse holds the secret.  His grace is sufficient for us, He will cover, our weakness, but its when we glory in our infirmities, acknowledge our weaknesses, ask for that grace, that the power of Christ comes upon us.  Its in those times that we cry out, “God, I can’t do this” that He loves to step in, cover us with grace, make up for our weakness, and allow us to do all things.  Even forgive.  

So that day, I took his hand.  And I forgave.  But it wasn’t really me.  It was Christ in me.  I just cried out and allowed Him to do the rest.