Lament: A Pathway to Forgiveness

As Christians, we know that we are to forgive, although it is not always easy. The scripture that usually comes to mind regarding forgiveness, is Peters question to Jesus, how many times to forgive a brother who sins against us, and Jesus’ response, we must forgive seven times seventy (Matthew 18:22). That number is not random but tells us that we must forgive over and over, without limit.

Forgiveness and mercy are a central theme in the Old and New Testament that teaches us compassion and reconciliation through the transformative power of God’s grace.  There are over fifty verses throughout the Bible regarding forgiveness. For example, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them” (Luke 17:3). “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1)

God is the ultimate author of forgiveness. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus, on the cross dying said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). It is therefore quite obvious that God’s command to forgive is not only very clear but is an important fundamental guide for our life.

So why then do we find it so difficult to forgive?  It seems the greater the hurt and offense the more challenging forgiveness becomes. We don’t want to forgive, we may mistakenly believe that forgiving will erase what was said, done or happened. Perhaps we believe the offender does not deserve our forgiveness.  Many times, it seems impossible to let it go. So, we suffer by allowing the pain to grow and spread like a virus, its tentacles breeding anger, resentment and bitterness that poisons our well-being.  But what if forgiveness was not just for the offender but maybe more for the one forgiving? What if we were able to see the offender as a broken being that is also a child of God.  What if forgiving allowed us to be unshackled and free, since we can’t change the circumstance(s), or the offender, but we can change our self.

Forgiveness provides spiritual growth, and the Bible provides a path to work our way through the forgiveness process through the Psalms of Lament.  We can follow the pattern found in the psalms of lament to help us forgive and heal:

  • Cry out to God (Psalm 13:1-2)
  • Ask for help (Psalm 13:3-4)
  • Respond in trust and praise (Psalm 13:5)

Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long journey. It starts in our thoughts and can stay there for quite a while as we wrestle back and forth, but when we allow it to reach our heart, the “wellspring of our life” it is then that we decide to obey and forgive. Thus, we turn to God. We come before the Lord humbly, just as we are, with honesty and without any reservation.  We let Him know our struggle. We cry and pour out in anguish and pain (lament) telling Him of our hurt and how it has overcome us.

We then seek and implore the Lord’s help, by boldly asking for relief and rescue from our suffering. We acknowledge that we are weak and broken and incapable, and totally dependent on Him. We express our confusion and sorrow and hope that God will intervene.  We ask for His provision and deliverance.

We conclude by placing our trust in Him for we know that He is trustworthy. We know that the Lord is in control, that He is faithful and through His unfailing love He will not forsake us. We praise Him for forgiving us, even though we sin and are undeserving, our eternal salvation was given through the blood of His Son. We worship Him, knowing that His character and promises are true and forever and we say, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will lift up my hands”(Psalm 63:4).

-Linda Hanby – Learn more about Linda here!

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