I had a recent conversation with a girl friend about forgiveness. Someone had offended her greatly, then she "ironically" (though this was clearly a God-thing) ended up drawing their name in a prayer card drawing at her church to have to pray for them for the week. She confessed that she couldn't. That she closed her eyes and tried and...nothing.
She said "now what?"
I thought about that for awhile. Forgiveness is hard, and messy. Not nearly as clear cut and simple as some like to think it is. We feel like forgiveness means letting the other person get away with their sin or offense. We feel like it means we surrender and give up and get "gipped".
Those are lies from hell, friend. Forgiveness sets US free. Keeps our communication open with the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness isn't "what you did was okay". It's "I'm turning you over to God to deal with".
And isn't that better anyway?
It is. But flesh and feelings get in the way and its impossible to do sometimes.
Good thing God specializes in the impossible ;)
So my answer to her was simply "start small". God blesses obedience, that's truth. And He understands our hearts. That's also truth. So I told her to tell God her grievances against this person and why she felt so bitter toward them, and then to pray "God bless X" (person's name) Just that. Start from there.
That sounds like such a pitiful prayer. Like surely it couldn't even count. But sometimes the smallest gestures mean the most. If she could break through her wall and utter those three small words, big things could happen in her heart and even in the heart of the other person.
God only requires a mustard seed from us.
She's going to try. I can't wait to hear how it goes. I told her she didn't even have to mean it yet. Just pray it and do her part to be obedient. God tell us clearly in His word to love those who persecute us, to forgive so we can be forgiven. And that starts with prayer.
If you're struggling to forgive today, start small. Think mustard seed. Mutter those three words between clenched teeth and with clenched fists, if you have to.
And watch how God can use it.