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Why are there so many hurting and broken relationships? Are there hurts so deep and so traumatic that we cannot forgive and forget and that can cripple love? Can love ever die? How many of us harbor in our hearts bitterness, resentment, un-forgiveness, vengeance, and the like, not realizing that these feelings will eventually alienate and destroy us? Hasn’t God offered us the solution to all our troubles: forgiveness?
The Bible emphatically denounces anyone who would deny any other forgiveness. It warns, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15), for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23), and There is no one righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10). Our self-righteousness is repugnant to God and esteemed by Him as nothing but “polluted garments” (Isaiah 64:6). The whole human race is bankrupt and in need of righteousness, the kind that offers love, acceptance and forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Such righteousness is only found in God who has declared us righteous “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). By faith in Jesus and through His blood shed on the cross, we have received forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7) and free access into God’s grace (Romans 5:2). Praise the Lord!
God has freely forgiven us and does not record our sins against us (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; 43:25), but why do many of us find forgiving the hardest thing in the world to do? The Scriptures are emphatic that one’s supreme love to God must be purposefully demonstrated by love to one’s neighbor as to one’s self (Mark 12:30-31). The apostle Paul patiently exhorts us in Ephesians 4:32 to Forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you, and in Colossians 3:13 to Bear with each other and forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another.
How does this characterize our marital relationship? We cannot deny that hurts can at times paralyze and clog up our relationship with our spouse and suffocate the flame of love. There comes a time when we think that enough is enough or we can’t love anymore because of our accumulated pain. Does this mean that we cannot choose to forgive our spouse, that is, take the cost, the penalty and accept the consequences for their mistakes or wrongdoings? If we do, we’ll provide our relationship with a platform for healing and restoration. To forgive is also to forbear, to allow the other person to fail and be disappointed now and then. Such an attitude can only prevent the flame of love from being smothered by hurts and disappointments. Isn’t that what Jesus did on the cross when He offered us second chances by laying down forgiveness as a bridge across the chasm of sin over which we must pass into eternal life?
How can we extend Christ’s forgiveness to our spouse and others? We must first acknowledge that God has shown great patience towards us in that He has absorbed all our sins and pain and sufferings by forgiving us and reconciling us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-22) and He calls us to do the same with the sins of others. We must refuse to incubate and cherish our hurts or make our spouse and others pay for them. Our God was wounded and hurt when His beloved Son suffered and died. Did He make us pay for His sufferings so that He could stop hurting Himself? Here lies the secret! We mustn’t withhold forgiveness and hold our spouse hostage in brandishing our inner hurts and use them as excuses to bail out of the marriage covenant. We must stay the course of marriage no matter what, even if this means opening ourselves to be hurt by our spouse again and again. Love never fails!
Sadly, relationships at times come to an end because many choose to worship at the shrine of their hurts and are unwilling not to let the latter override their relationships. Let’s keep our eyes on God who is always ready to guide, forgive, and lead to new beginnings (Isaiah 49:13; Jeremiah 33:10-11). Nothing is too hard for Him. He’s promised to heal us, cleanse us, renew our minds, change our hearts, and put a new spirit in us (Jeremiah 33:6-8; Ezekiel 36:25-27). He can resurrect hurting and dead relationships (Ezekiel 37:14) and take the divided couples in His hands and make them one again with undivided hearts (Ezekiel 37:15-28).
Yes, God can restore all human relationships! Let’s determine to be the first to apologize, the first to forgive, and the first to forget. God is for us, not against us, and nothing can separate us from His love when we face trouble and calamity (Romans 8:31-39). There is hope in Him, so let’s trustingly, lovingly, and patiently practice each day until nightfall to forgive others as God in Christ forgave us. Let’s stop chewing over our troubles lest we pay interest on them. Let’s consider it pure joy when we face difficulties, accepting what happens to us with a loving and forgiving heart, and majoring on the nine-tenths of life’s goodness instead of its one-tenth of misery. To forgive is to overcome Satan and sin. It’s to experience healing of the whole person. Let’s keep forgiving! God’s dwelling place will be with us and we’ll be His people (Ezekiel 37:27). “Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever” (Ezekiel 37:28).
Let’s stand wearing God’s mighty armor, for overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who first loved us. Our God is faithful to all His promises. Whomever He restores He’ll make like a well-watered garden (Jeremiah 31:12). May we never stop forgiving and ever let perseverance finish its work that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).
Persevering in New Zealand,
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.