I merrily pumped our backyard seesaw oblivious to any hazard. My small foot slipped, and the rusty edge of the pedal carved a long, jagged gouge across my right ankle. Pain seared through me like a lightning bolt. I didn’t think it could get worse—until my mother appeared with soap, water, and a bottle of red mercurochrome.
The first cleaning was the worst. But my wound continued to weep after it was bandaged. This wound had to be cleaned over and over again.
In our forgiveness series, we’re spelling Freedom. The O in FREEDOM stands for Over and Over.
Forgiveness Cleans Our Wounds
Forgiveness cleans our personal injuries like soap and water disinfect a physical wound. And like my childhood injury, some personal hurts require more than one washing to heal. Sometimes we have to forgive Over and over again (Matt. 18:21-22).Forgiveness cleans our personal injuries like soap and water disinfect a physical wound. #forgive Click To Tweet
Years ago, I read an article in a well-respected Christian periodical that said you can tell you have not truly forgiven if you still hurt. I had tried to forgive someone who continued to cause my family suffering. This article discouraged me. I’d chosen to forgive, not retaliate, and turn the person over to God, but the pain remained.
Now I know the author was wrong. If someone kicks your shin and your body doesn’t hurt that is not a good thing. And you expect the pain from a knife between the ribs to last longer than a kick in the shin. When you forgive an offense, whether it was intentional or accidental, the pain doesn’t just stop.
That is true for personal wounds too. Forgiving a wrong cleanses the wound so we will heal without bitterness. But forgiving doesn’t instantly heal us or eradicate pain. And the bigger the loss, the longer it may take to heal.
Some Wounds Require Repeated Cleansing
The “Christian” builder of one of our homes never paid us back for our kitchen cabinets and the other expenses we paid out of pocket to finish the house. After we moved in, his subs appeared at our door demanding to be paid. His lack of supervision left us with creaky floors and work that had to be redone. Over a span of years, we suffered from his irresponsibility each time we had to pay someone to take care of things he had botched. Every time irritation over this needless cost and inconvenience seeped into my consciousness I had to forgive again.
That loss is small compared to the wife whose husband left their marriage for another woman or the child killed by a drunk driver. Daily reminders keep these losses alive.
Deep wounds often throb even after they appear to be healed. Unexpected pangs jar us when a chance meeting or conversation pokes a wound.
We Forgive; God Heals
Joseph suffered over and over again after his brothers sold him into slavery. Their betrayal cost him thirteen years in slavery and prison and twenty years of separation from his beloved father and brother. Genesis 45:2-8 and 50:15-21 show the deep emotions Joseph felt years after forgiving and reconciling with his brothers.
Thankfully, most wounds are forgiven and forgotten. However wounds mend at different rates. If one continues to seep pain and bitterness even after you forgive, don’t beat yourself up. Just clean your wound again. How often? As often as the toxins seep into your consciousness.
Every time we forgive, we heal a little more. And more healing makes the need for cleansing less frequent. Forgiveness is God’s provision to clean our wounds. And healing comes in His timing, not ours.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He sent forth His word and healed them,” (Psalm 107:19-20).
Next week we’ll look at how to Manage our relationship with unsafe people.