Where do you find yourself mid-week after celebrating the Resurrection? Is that truth (Risen Savior, guys, not the Peeps) still the best news in your life? Is your life still marked by the empty tomb? Or are you back to fighting in the trenches of your circumstances to believe in the victory claimed for you at Calvary?
The entire premise of forgiveness is that injury has occurred. Sin has broken a relationship, whether a hairline fracture or shattering. And if you’re in the valley of suffering, injury seems to come quicker. Trite answers when you needed quiet empathy, loneliness and isolation where you had hoped for someone’s presence, misunderstanding when you so needed your heart to be heard, apathy and dismissal when you needed to be welcomed and received. This is not even an exhaustive list, but when we were designed for perfect relationships with God and people, there are a thousand ways relationships can crack and fissure.
My heart has longed to quickly and easily release these hurts. I have hated being the walking wounded, wishing I was just less sensitive. But what if each of these pains, seen and known and allowed by good and wise God, were actually an invitation to deeper friendship with Him?
What if pithy answers and off-handed opinions from people actually pointed me to the depth of His counsel? (Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Romans 11:33-35)
Would I really be satisfied in the truth of El Roi, God who sees and knows the suffering of His children, if I hadn’t experienced being unseen? (“And God heard their groaning…God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” Exodus 1:25)
How would I know the precious cost of Christ being forsaken for me if I hadn’t experienced temporal and lesser pang of being forgotten by people? (“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani! My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”)
If I were so easily satisfied in friendships that never disappointed, would I experience His invitation to come freely and delight in His rich love? (Isaiah 55)
If I’m really honest, doesn’t the offense I’ve felt really just mirror the enormity of my own offense against God Himself and other people? And show how my iniquity exacts a forgiveness infinitely greater than any I could offer? I will never need to forgive a person more than my own life has required it. (Matthew 18:21-35)
What if the “no” that comes from people shows us the truth that “all of the promises of God find their Yes in him”? (2 Corinthians 1:20)
What if the wounds I’m nursing bring more beauty that “by His wounds I have been healed”? (Isaiah 53:5)
The good news of Jesus Christ beckons that I be endeared to Him and not embittered against people. My ability to forgive, to release someone from the cost of their hurt to me, comes from the abundance of my own desperate need for mercy and the price it came to release me from my death sentence.
Whether its a hard or awkward conversation with someone to confront the hurt, or whether its the wild hope of the coming Kingdom where we will live in perfect and eternal harmony with the redeemed, these words from Tim Keller give Easter hope to our daily struggle in forgiveness:
“Christ’s resurrection not only gives you hope for the future, but hope to handle your scars right now.”