At a Fuller Theological Seminary event I attended last week, a student from the Congo named Patrick asked an Anglican bishop, “How do you forgive those who have killed a member of your family?”
The bishop answered, “It is very difficult.”
In a private conversation afterwards, I asked Patrick, “Were any of them Christian?” “Yes,” he answered, “But they were of a different tribe.”
This put my forgiveness struggles in perspective.
Robert Muholland, a theologian and retired New Testament professor of Asbury Theological Seminary, recently said at our New Life Leadership Conference that forgiveness is the most difficult spiritual discipline.
I think he is right. I have not thought of forgiving others as a discipline like prayer, Scripture study, worship, etc. This is a fresh nuance for me.
It can take weeks, months, even years to forgive certain hurts done to us. The deeper the relational investment, the deeper the wound. Every leader in God’s church I have met knows the painful, slow, often agonizing process of forgiving. It is tempting to ignore the discipline, especially when we have so much else “to do.”
Jesus was right, “With human beings this is impossible but not with God. All things are possible with God.” But I believe, in God’s mysterious plan, it is one of the way He transforms us into His image.
May you and I not close our hearts to engage in this spiritual discipline each day, praying, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”