Christianity -- Christian Living/Forgiveness
I apologize if this question is childish, I know the concept seems a little absurd at first glance, but I need help understanding forgiveness. It's a complicated concept to me and I'm sincerely concerned that I am, at heart, an evil person.
I try to live compassionately; when in doubt, I opt to err on the side of kindness, I don't wish any form of unhappiness or misfortune upon anybody, I devote my free time to helping disabled children create art, and I volunteer to help rehabilitate abused animals. But there are always these two things silently eating away at me, and when I think about them, all I feel is this terrible hatred that I cannot ever seem to let go of. I know it's wrong to hate. I know we're supposed to forgive, I know that we ourselves are forgiven and so it's only right that we forgive others. But no matter how hard I try, I can't.
Several years ago, my 6-year-old brother was cruelly and painfully murdered. With help, I've come to accept the fact that the killer may never be caught, and I'm comfortable believing that God will deal with that person as he sees fit. But that doesn't stop me from hating the person who did that to him.
Also, my grandmother has always been a very mean and abusive person. I've long since forgiven her for the cruelty she showed towards me, that doesn't bother me anymore. However, she was exceptionally cruel to my grandfather in his final months of life. She mocked him because he began to walk slowly, she called him an idiot all the time because he was forgetful (he was 90 at the time, she was 65), she even fed him spoiled food because she said there was no point wasting good food on someone who's going to be dead soon enough anyway. In his final few days of life, she threw his Bible away, mocked him viciously for believing in fairy tales, and told him that if there was really a God, then certainly my grandfather was destined for Hell because he never knew how to do anything right. And for those things, I cannot forgive her. I cannot even look her in the eye without feeling like I might punch her in the face. My grandfather was a kind, charitable, and gentle soul. He did nothing to deserve that treatment, it's simply in her "personality" to treat people that way.
Knowing all of this now, do you have any suggestions for how to forgive these people? I'm weary of feeling rage when these things cross my mind. It's exhausting and it's so wrong to hold onto this hatred and I'm aware of that, I'm just not clear on how exactly to do it. I've tried therapy, but they just don't seem to understand why it's important on a Christian level. I've tried speaking with my pastor, but his answer was "if you can't figure it out on your own, I'm not going to be of any use to you."
What exactly does it mean to forgive someone? And how does a person fight off an instinctive hatred so that forgiveness can be attained?
I apologize for the length of this. Thank you dearly for your time, and may God bless you and your family.
Several things came to mind as I read of your circumstances;
Please do not feel that not understanding forgiveness is childish. In my 35+ years of ministry, I can honestly say that very few earnestly desire to understand and truly walk in forgiveness.... You are not alone, my friend. I rejoice when I encounter one of those!
Secondly, I am grieved to hear of your brother's murder! I have had some (what I thought at the time) to be horrible things happen to me, but compared to you having your brother murdered, they do not compare! Yet, please consider the love of THE FATHER who gave HIS dear SON for those even responsible for HIS death! It is only by HIS SPIRIT working in and through us that we may glimpse that same expression!
Thirdly, your grandmother sounds like a person full of bitterness, anger and UNFORGIVENESS. It it the faithfulness of THE FATHER to allow you to see an extreme example of the fruit of UNFORGIVENESS, my friend. Learn it well. In varying degrees these examples are all around us! Steer clear of them when you must. Pity them from afar. But most of all do not end up like them! If you can, provoke them to HIS TRUTH. If they reject HIM / HIS WORD, they will be rejected...
Now, as for your pastor' s counsel, if he is not anymore understanding than he sounds, I would encourage you to seek another pastor! There are things that we all, must come to terms with individually. But if that is his attitude in general toward those who seek the counsel of THE WORD, look elsewhere, my friend. This one is profaning the calling as described in the Scriptures!
Now, concerning your plight, the capacity to forgive is in direct proportion to our awareness of experiencing HIS forgiveness. Have you? Have you been forgiven? Has HIS SPIRIT bore witness to your spirit that you are his child? Consider;
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of Elohim, these are sons of Elohim. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim, and if children, also heirs – truly heirs of Elohim, and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we also be exalted together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the esteem that is to be revealed in us." (Romans 8:14-18 ISR98)
Also my friend, according to the Scriptures, your estimation of yourself (and all others, I might add), is accurate. In heart, there is evil. Consider;
Thus said יהוה, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart turns away from יהוה. “For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and not see when good comes, and shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land that is not inhabited. “Blessed is the man who trusts in יהוה, and whose trust is יהוה. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and does not see when heat comes. And his leaf shall be green, and in the year of drought he is not anxious, nor does he cease from yielding fruit. “The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick – who shall know it? (Jeremiah 17:5-9 ISR98)
This is the heart that does not receive forgiveness, neither extends forgiveness...
That is why HE has promised to give those who realize this fact a new heart!!! Consider;
“And I shall sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean – from all your filthiness and from all your idols I cleanse you. “And I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. And I shall take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I shall give you a heart of flesh, and put My Spirit within you. And I shall cause you to walk in My laws and guard My right-rulings and shall do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27 ISR98)
This is the heart that both receives HIS FORGIVENESS and as a result can extend forgiveness to others...
Dear Fi, your own efforts to accomplish this have thus far, and will continue to fail. If we could have accomplished this on our own YAHSHUA MESSIAH would not have had to suffer and die so as to be able to send the SPIRIT into our lives to accomplish it! Consider;
יהושע answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he is unable to see the reign of Elohim.”
“That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You have to be born from above.’ (John 3:3, 6-7 ISR98)
Once HIS SPIRIT resides in our lives, all those old attitudes of our old wicked hearts begin to be replaced by HIS loving, forgiving goodness! It is a process, for sure! But it is possible! I can attest to it! How does it begin? Consider;
If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 ISR98)
I once had such hatred and unforgiveness for a person that it took me about three weeks, everyday on my four block walk to and from work, confessing verbally that "I forgive you, ..." before I finally released that hatred and unforgiveness for him! By HIS strength and encouragement you can as well...once you know that you too are forgiven...
Let me encourage you to read and ponder Matthew chapters 6 and 18 as you seek HIS FORGIVENESS to you... And through you! In YAHSHUA!