Q. I’ve been reading about forgiveness. My brother was set up to be murdered. I just can’t forgive one person who had a part in this who was close to him and should have helped and protected him. I know that forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s really more for myself in letting go of what this person has done. But how do you get past something like this? I struggle with this a lot and I don’t like the way I feel.
My sincere condolences to you on the loss of your brother. Many readers of this blog have also asked about forgiveness and I hope that the following reflections that I’ve shared with them will also be helpful to you. May the God of all comfort grant you peace.
“How do I know whether I’ve really managed to forgive someone?”
“Can we truly love our enemies?”
“Couldn’t ‘turning the other cheek’ get someone seriously hurt?“
Author: Christopher R Smith
The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings.
He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.
View all posts by Christopher R Smith
3 thoughts on “I’m struggling to forgive”
I had to miss several Sundays in a row at my church because of a difficult personal situation. Unfortunately my pastor was not very understanding. He came to my house and said some very hurtful things to me. I wasn’t in the mood to argue, so I asked him to leave, which he did. Some days later I went to meet with him and told him I thought he had been out of line. He didn’t understand and he wouldn’t apologize, so I told him I was withdrawing my membership and I asked him not to return to my house. I had been very active and hard-working within that congregation, but now my wife and I are visiting other congregations, though we haven’t joined a new church yet. When I see people from my former church, they shun me. I was very hurt and it took a long time to get over. I have forgiven him in my heart, but we have never spoken again about that day. I wonder if there is anything else I should do about this in the eyes of the Lord? Any advice?
I think you have followed all the biblical steps to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation in this case. You’ve taken the initiative and done your part, but your former pastor and congregation aren’t reciprocating. Let me invite you to read this further post: “How do I know whether I’ve really managed to forgive someone?” I think that if you consider the principles I discuss there, it will help you recognize what, if anything, you still need to work on at this point: Forgiveness is an act of the will that must be completed by emotional work; forgiveness does not mean letting the other person hurt you all over again; forgiveness is not a substitute for establishing personal boundaries; forgiveness takes one, reconciliation takes two. It has been said that there are many kinds of hurt, but “church hurt” is one of the worst. You are dealing with “church hurt.” I hope and pray that you will find a new congregation that will live out the love of Jesus and help you finish the work of forgiving and finding healing within their midst.
Thank you, I have forgiven him. It took quite some time to get over (3 years). We have visited three other churches and have picked one for this Sunday. Thanks again.