When Forgiving Feels Unfathomable

by Maureen Miller

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, [and then] your Father in heaven may forgive you…. Mark 11:25 NIV

Sometimes God won’t leave well enough alone. It hadn’t been a week since I’d been wronged when, out of the blue, He began meddling with my emotions. After all, I wanted to wallow in self-pity awhile longer, thank you very much.

“Forgive as you’ve been forgiven,” He whispered.

“But I’ve never done something so hurtful,” came my reply.

“Don’t be so sure,” I heard Him say a little more loudly. After all, He’s all about leading us to humility, and my self-righteous response was a tad too haughty.

Truth is, I sometimes want to clutch my grudge, much like a child who clings to a security blanket, as though my vice grip on bitterness brings justification.

“See what another’s wrong did to me,” I boast, if not with words, at least with body language—arms crossed one moment only to hang limp at my side the next, vacillating between stoic pride and self-pity.

But on that day—the day God wouldn’t leave well enough alone—He repeated Himself for emphasis. “Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.”

Blast! He was serious. So, I turned to His Word, looking for a small-print clause, anything that allowed me to argue with Him a bit longer. Surely strong-willed Peter or perseverant Paul offered something to justify my resentment, perhaps buy me more time in my oddly comfortable pit of despair.

But what I discovered was in Mark’s Gospel. Likely just a teenager when Jesus called, “Follow me,” Mark, according to tradition, grew old and fiery, experienced mistreatment and, eventually, was bound by a rope and dragged through Alexandria until he died in a dusty street.

Yes, it was this disciple who penned Mark 11:25, the red-letter words spoken by the One who endured more suffering than we can imagine and then became sin on our behalf, though without sin Himself—His death offering us forgiveness.

I sensed my grip loosening on my grievance. And here I’d thought God’s word to me was an if/ then proposition that offered another freedom—for someone I didn’t want to see set free. I wanted her to see the error of her ways and regret her decision; that’s the honest truth.

But what I read from Mark was something else. Here I was, pleading with God to heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds, so I could wear the bandages like a badge that others might see and sympathize. How selfish!

However, Mark 11:25 offered a gracious gift. Instead of exhorting me to forgive so that someone else would be set free, the words spoke of my forgiveness offering freedom… to me.

Oh, God’s mercy—to work with me in my simple-minded, still selfish state. Though tottering, I took baby steps to discover I was still standing. And what were these steps?

First, I said three words aloud: “I forgive her.” Then I wrote “I forgive you” in a letter and mailed it. Though I didn’t know how it would be received, this wasn’t what God said was important. I’d obeyed, despite feeling.

In time, feelings came to match my faith steps. Like a toddler who graduates from tiptoed wobbles to running, I, too, have graduated by shaking off the fetters of my own sin to step out in faith and forgive.

Indeed, there’s power in forgiveness, and it’s true that God simply won’t leave well enough alone. Why? Because He wants so much more. Beyond our “well enough” is the well-spring of abundant life that Jesus offers. Through His death, He forgave our sins, which enables us, likewise, to forgive.  

And forgiving? It’s the crossroad to freedom just beyond an empty tomb.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Maureen Miller lives and loves on Selah Farm—a hobby homestead nestled in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. With Bill, her husband of 32 years, and their three “born-in-their-hearts” children and three grandchildren, they raise a variety of animals. Maureen loves books, movies, and music that make her cry. She asks daily to have eyes and ears wide open that she might experience the wonders of God’s Word and His created world and blogs regularly about His extraordinary character discovered in the ordinary of life at www.penningpansies.com. Taking Spirit-breathed ideas and framing them with words is her passion. Living Jesus is her highest aim.

Join the conversation: Has God ever enabled you to supernaturally forgive?

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8 thoughts on “When Forgiving Feels Unfathomable

  1. Thank you for sharing, Maureen. So important. In those times when I don’t want to surrender my grievance, I try to say, “Lord, I’m willing to be made willing to be made willing …” (as many times as it takes to move me closer to forgiving). God is faithful to take my little surrender and increase it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maureen, Thanks for sharing the way to freedom is forgiveness. So thankful that God created such a path to set us free from grudges, and self-pity, that can hold us captive

    Like

  3. Oh my! I didn’t want to read this–because of course–I have someone–a situation– out of my control. I feel I’ve been wronged, but was reminded by your using Christ’s words–and deeds of what I need to do. Forgive. Thank you!

    Like

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