Titus 1:1-9; Psalm 24:1-6;Luke 17:1-6
Forgive. (Luke 17:3)
Jesus wasn’t tiptoeing around the issue. Millstones are heavy. Large ones, like the one Jesus refers to in today’s Gospel reading, can weigh more than a ton. Still, we can get so focused on the millstone that we lose the heart of his central message here: if you have been sinned against, you need to forgive. Seven times or seven times seventy times, it amounts to the same thing: every time. Jesus wasn’t just offering a public rebuke to the ones who cause people to sin. He was telling all of us to forgive!
We have all been hurt at some time in our lives, and sometimes the memory of that hurt can stay with us for a long, long time. If we don’t deal with our pain through the gift of forgiveness, it can become a constant companion: a recurring complaint, a rancorous story told repeatedly, a sad movie that plays persistently in our thoughts. Whether we speak about the hurt or keep it bottled up inside, the result is the same: resentment and fear and shame deepen; bitterness festers. The chains that those emotions forge tighten and become heavier and heavier.
We don’t have to live in that kind of bondage! Forgiveness is the key. Forgive. And if the hurt resurfaces, forgive again. And again. Seven times seventy times, if necessary.
Sometimes, all you need is to take just one small step to forgive a hurt. Other times, you need to take a number of steps, over a long period of time, before you get your heart to a place where you can forgive. Whatever it takes, as long as you are trying to move forward, your heavenly Father will help you along.
Then there are those times when the pain is too sharp and the offense is too great for you to forgive. Know that even in these situations, God sees your heart, and he will ask you only to take the steps that you can take at that moment. Ever patient and compassionate, he is with you to help you and to heal your wounds.
So whatever your situation, picture your heavenly Father sitting next to you, his arm around your shoulder. Tell him what hurts. Tell him how hard it is to forgive. And ask him for his help. Give him time, just as he is giving you time, and he will help you take the next step. And the next one. And the next one.
“Father, help me to forgive. Heal me so that I can let go of anything that is holding me back!”~WAU