Thanksgiving………. a time when we stop and reflect on the things for which we are thankful. Being ‘thankful’ is something I think we all take for granted. Each year at this time we focus on the things we have been blessed with in our daily lives.
Thanksgiving means something very different to me this year. Last year at this time I was dealing with what would end up being a long year of heartache. I can’t say that my life circumstances are anywhere near perfect right now, but with God’s grace and strength I am still standing to give thanks for all that I do have. This year I am thankful to God for carrying me when I could not carry myself.
I believe in order to truly give thanks to God for blessings he has given, we need to let go of past hurts and offer forgiveness to those who have inflicted pain or hardships on us. It’s easy to be thankful for those who have forgiven us for our mistakes. But is it possible to be thankful for the opportunity to forgive others? If we are to live in a contented state of mind, we cannot harbor bad feelings and continue to punish people for their mistakes …….if they are asking for forgiveness! If they are not asking for forgiveness it does make it much harder.
Refusing to forgive can be a heavy burden to bear. Truly forgiving can be a heavy burden to bear as well, when you are the one who has been hurt. When you have a hardened heart and do not extend forgiveness to others you only add to the suffering. It weighs you down and consumes your thoughts, moods, actions and ability to love. Does this mean we should accept the behavior of the person who is causing our pain? No, absolutely not. Does this mean we should continue to allow the behavior? NO! However, if this person is truly sorry for what they have done and is asking for forgiveness and willing to make up for what they have done, why would you continue to bear the burden of pain any further?
Forgiving those who are NOT asking for it is available to you only through God’s grace and letting the Holy Spirit work in you. Do not let the fact that someone is NOT sorry for their actions rob you of the contentment that can come through forgiveness. Forgive anyway!!
Gary Chapman speaks of forgiveness in his book ONE MORE TRY. He states that we should consider God’s forgiveness of our sin and what our lives in eternity would look like if it weren’t for that forgiveness. We, in turn, should extend that forgiveness to others. Chapman goes on to say that forgiving someone does not mean you will forget the pain and hurt; you won’t go through your life never thinking of it again. But what it will do is release you of bitterness and a hardened heart. You are releasing the one who hurt you of the guilt they carry as well. What better gift to yourself AND to the one who needs the forgiveness.
At this time of year when we will be making memories with family and friends, why not give yourself and those you need to forgive the best gift of all? Start your holiday with forgiveness. Will this be easy? No. Will it be quick? No. Will you have days that it doesn’t seem right for this person to have your forgiveness? Yes. Does your relationship with that person have to be the same? No. Forgive and then let God show you what your future with that person is to be. I truly believe that the road to forgiveness begins with a conversation with God. Ask God to place forgiveness in your heart so that you can put past hurts behind you and move forward with your life. God will honor that request and put you on a better path.
If you are the person who has done the hurting to others, your first step is asking God to forgive you. Then go to the person you have hurt and truly say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. You too will have a burden lifted and can begin to make amends for the wrong you have done. The act of forgiveness is a gift we give each other. Do not let another day go by carrying guilt that can be extinguished by asking for forgiveness.
Colossians 3:13 ‘ bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do’.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness………..I hope to be able to say next year that I am thankful for forgiveness. Make a commitment to God and yourself that you will be quick to forgive others as Christ forgave you.
Take each opportunity this holiday season to love one another and put past hurt behind you. I promise you won’t regret it. Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for each of you!