The Divine Art of Forgiveness


Shock gave way to disbelief as I listened to the plans a friend shared with a group of us over coffee. My head swiveled towards her. What? I couldn’t have heard her right . . . Without warning, she’d removed me from a position of trust and replaced me with someone she didn’t know well. It didn’t make sense.

She took a sip of her coffee, “Yeah, it’s definitely the right thing to do . . . ” I turned away fiddling with some papers to mask my confusion and struggled to make sense of it. True, our relationship had taken a hit over the last year, was still a bit strained in places, but this?


person cut in half by scissors

I felt her eyes on me as she continued to talk, trying to justify her actions. “I was told this is the best option, so . . . ” Her voice wrapped around my heart, squeezing with each word. I couldn’t believe it; in less than an hour, years of mutual trust crumbled. Is this really happening? I couldn’t meet her eyes–I couldn’t even look up. A throb began in my throat, then pulsed through my veins, tracing a path down my arms.

She turned back to the group, who shifted in their seats, and continued to make her case. My heart began to ache. I set the papers down and organized them into neat little piles, grappling with her words. Then I turned, as if on a forgotten errand, and walked into the next room. Where I stayed. Until she’d left.

Hurt. Betrayal. Anger. Revenge. Powerful words.

But there is a word more powerful still;


What a difficult word that is. An impossible act. Forgiveness is more than a state of mind, much more than an exchange of mumbled apologies. It goes far beyond a softened heart.

Forgiveness is a miracle–it’s the fruit that flows from a God’s-eye view of our sins as equally offensive before a holy God.

Forgiveness is a sacrifice, a searing excavation of “self.” It means we sacrifice our hurts, our rights, our pride to God; that we cast them at His feet–and abandon them there. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Forgiveness hurts.

Forgiveness is beyond me. I know on my own, I can’t forgive. Have you tried? Then you, too, know the impotence of human “forgiveness” to reconcile a relationship. And no wonder, my “forgiveness” is often a grudging pardon, a partial release– after I’ve punished the offender. My brand of forgiveness remembers–and recounts–the hurt long after grace has been granted.

My forgiveness isn’t forgiveness at all.

True forgiveness belongs to God who alone possesses the power to forgive sins and redeem relationships. And He frees the souls of those on both sides of the hurt. His forgiveness is generous, infinite, and comprehensive. (Psalm 103:12) (Matthew 9:6-8) 

God’s forgiveness heals my heart. (Psalm 147:3)


Close-up of hands holding red coffee cups in front of lit fireplace

And God’s forgiveness empowers me to share His healing balm. In fact, He expects me to share it because forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s an act of obedience.

And it’s not optional. (Colossians 3:13) (Ephesians 4:32) (Mark 11:25)

Ever. (Matthew 6:14-15)

I don’t like that. The hurt’s too deep, the sense of betrayal, acute. No, to dwell on my feelings, broadcast my case, issue an indictment, rid myself of the offending party–that’s my way. “Give up, give in, get rid of that difficult relationship.”

But that’s not God’s way. He never gives up on our relationship and doesn’t give in to anger either. No, even now He’s working to repair and restore relationships–

–because He is a God who forgives. (I John 1:9; Micah 7:18-19)

How about you? What step are you willing to take to reconcile a difficult relationship today?



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Comments 7

  1. Very timely for me. And you are right. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s obedience to God’s word. I’ve been on both sides of that equation…forgiving someone and being forgiven. It’s always a reflection of God’s amazing grace and humbles me.

  2. Great job Beth! I love this post! If we don’t learn to forgive how can we ever really accept the forgiveness that God ex tense to us. Thank you for sharing this!

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  3. I loved this! I especially like, “Forgiveness is a miracle, the fruit of a divine revelation of our sinful state before a holy God. It flows from a God’s-eye view of our sins as equally offensive in His sight.

    Forgiveness is a sacrifice, a holy excavation of “self.” It means we sacrifice our hurts, our rights, our pride to God; that we cast them at His feet–and abandon them there. (Matthew 18:21-22)
    Great thoughts. Great heart. Great job putting it out there. Thanks for being so transparent.

    1. I’m only recently discovering what a true miracle forgiveness is, both to receive and to extend. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  4. Ugh. I need this. It is so hard to forgive sometimes. I need to. It is hard to know how to forgive, but not condone actions and words that were said. Especially when they have not asked for or even feel the need of forgiveness. So Hard!

    1. There are no easy answers, that’s for sure. But one thing I know; my job isn’t to worry about their response (or responsibility), it’s to take ownership of mine. That, I get. But I sure don’t like it much!

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