What makes forgiveness so hard?

Last week in politics: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a “good chat” with former prime minister Tony Abbott.

You might have missed that update, though, given all the other political stuff going on in Australia.

But Prime Minister Turnbull confirmed he recently discussed “life, politics, everything” with Mr Abbott.

Given their frosty and occasionally heated relationship since Mr Turnbull took over the top job from Mr Abbott, the idea of them having a “good chat” might conjure all sorts of ideas and images in your head.

Is forgiveness one of them?

Forgiveness is hard

Without knowing exactly what the Liberal leaders talked about, the fact they were even talking brings to mind the idea of forgiveness. Actually, more like the idea of how hard it can be to forgive someone.

I don’t know what Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott said to each other. I also don’t know whether either of them feel forgiveness needs to be offered or requested from each other. But the fall-out from their public leadership tussle does, at the very least, remind me of situations in my own life where forgiveness looms.

Think about your own life and I guarantee you’ve gone through relationship problems and flare-ups which call for forgiveness. Whether it is you wanting someone to forgive you or, even harder, you being asked to forgive them.

We’ve all wronged somebody else and we’ve all been wronged. Most times, nothing is going to make that wrong right. Nothing.

No wonder, then, forgiveness pops up. How else can relationships be addressed, repaired or restored unless we are willing to forgive? Willing to let go of our desire for retribution and, instead, thinking and behaving as if a debt has been paid and erased.

Forgiveness is really hard

Hearing of the Turbull/Abbott “good chat” might have prompted you to reflect on forgiveness in your own life. Perhaps, once again, you’ve been struck by how really, really, really hard it is to forgive.

The reason for this should be painfully obvious. Forgiveness is, um, hard.

True, meaningful, sincere forgiveness is so hard that the loving and merciful ruler of the universe, God, went to extraordinary lengths to hold out forgiveness to those who had wronged him.

Whenever we think about how hard it can be to wipe the slate clean and not hold something against another, perhaps we should think again about how God did that. On a colossal, breathtaking and mind-blowing scale.

No matter how hard it is for us to offer forgiveness, it can’t compare with God’s forgiveness through his gracious, generous son Jesus. So, we shouldn’t try to compare them. Instead, be inspired and empowered by God’s forgiveness, to work at finding it less hard to hand out forgiveness to others.

Ben McEachen

 

 




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