Doug Johnson: The power of forgiveness is the power of healing
Published 12:00 am Monday, July 4, 2022
Have you ever experienced the power of forgiveness?
The following story was told by Bob Marquis, a prison ministry staff member, in a New England newsletter called Currents.
“Not in my wildest fantasies could I have orchestrated what God did at Congress ‘96. I was manning one of the EANE booths on Saturday when I noticed an elderly lady eyeing me.
For several minutes, she stood there, as if trying desperately to figure out who I was.
Finally, she approached me and looked intently at my badge.
“Looking up at me she said sternly, ‘I have a bone to pick with you!’”
“‘Do I know you?’ I asked, somewhat taken aback.
“‘We’ve met before,’ she said, ‘back in 1967.
But at that time, you were holding a gun to my head and you were so intent on getting out of my establishment that we were never properly introduced.’
“I then recognized her as the Jewish woman who owned a liquor store in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, which I had held up in 1967. At this point, I braced myself for anything, but she broke out in a broad smile, gave me a hug and said, ‘Isn’t it great how the Lord has changed both of our occupations?’”
“I asked her, ‘Does this mean that I have been forgiven?’”
“‘You were forgiven from the day I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1971, but I have not had the opportunity to tell you about it until today!’
“‘But how did you recognize me after 29 years?’
“‘I kept the picture of you that appeared on the front page of the Woonsocket Call on the day you were arrested. I put it on a wall in my house and I would curse you and mentally throw darts at it almost daily until the day I was saved. From that day on I began praying daily for your salvation.’”
That story illustrates how forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice we make.
Many people don’t feel forgiven because they haven’t chosen to forgive others.
Billy Graham once said, “75 percent of patients in hospitals would be made whole if they would learn to forgive.”
But choosing to forgive someone who has abused or hurt you isn’t always easy to do.
In Matthew chapter 6, we find the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus wanted to teach His disciples the correct way to pray for their needs and for each other.
In verses 14 and 15 He said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
The lesson Jesus was trying to teach was this: either learn to forgive or stop asking God to give you something you’re not willing to give to others.
Every relationship thrives on forgiveness. Husbands and wives must learn to forgive… parents and children must learn to forgive… and Christians must learn to forgive.
If someone has hurt you, look to the One who knows how you feel.
Jesus understands what pain and loneliness feel like. After all, it was our sins that nailed Him to the cross!
Did He deserve that?
No, but He died to pay the penalty of our sins so we could be forgiven and set free from our past.
If you let Him, Jesus will help you to forgive and begin the healing process.
He will also forgive you as you learn to forgive others… because no one is worth messing up how your story ends.
Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.
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