When people disappoint you
She said she’d be there for you. She added the following more than once, “You are counting me in, right?”
You actually counted her in.
On the big day that really mattered to you, she didn’t show. She didn’t even call.
We’ve all traveled the road of disappointment. At each bend or bump in the road, Christians are called to forgive. In fact, we are called to forgive 70 times 7.
This forgiveness formula comes from Jesus. In Matthew 18:21-22, we hear Peter ask a question. “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replies, “but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22, NLT)!”
“But Jesus,” we want to cry out when our sting or slam is significant. “I’ve been wronged. Seriously, truly wronged! To forgive? Not me. Not this. And to do so over and over and over again?”
“Yes,” he’d say.
The question here isn’t what to do. We are to forgive. The question is how do we forgive.
Here’s an answer. We forgive because we have been forgiven. This forgiveness is exactly what Jesus did for each of us when he died on a cross for our sins. On blood-stained wood a breath away from an excruciating death, the sacrificial Lamb of God said, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34a, NKJV).”
How we forgive others begins by understanding we have been forgiven for our own sins. We forgive because we understand—or are reminded—that there are far more than seventy-seven times we’ve said we’d show up and then skipped out like our no-show friend mentioned at the top of this column. We did more than miss an important event. We have also said the wrong thing—and we have even done the wrong thing—more times than we can count.
I’m a pastor. I preach this. This is the message that resounds from pulpits on what I hope is more than Easter Sunday.
There is more to this message. I should accurately say there’s an extension to this message. In addition to the forgiveness Jesus extended to you on the cross, consider how others have forgiven you. For me, this is easy—and obvious. Each day, I screw up more times than I can count. I mean this literally. A ball dropper, I miss this. I forget that. I am beyond deadline. I should have and could have… and don’t.
And you know what? I’m forgiven. People forgive me. They offer pardon. They don’t bring up a past infraction. That mess up I did is gone.
Even a stranger will offer forgiveness.
If I live in such a world of forgiveness—and I do—than I can forgive others. You can, too.
Like you, I don’t live in the land of bliss all the time. Recently, I was slammed. The person bit more than once. Oh, no, it wasn’t just a bad moment for someone on their bad day. The resulting hurt was real. Intentional.
And honestly, my forgiveness was not immediate. There was a process. A storm welled up and was churning within me. (Accurately, I let that storm churn within me.) It wasn’t pretty and it lasted longer than it should have.
But it did pass. It didn’t pass because I am wonderful. It passed because I knew what I had to do—which was forgive. As importantly, I knew how to forgive.
People are going to disappoint you. How you forgive them is by returning to the point of origin—your point of origin. You have been forgiven for every wrong. Every storm you’ve created in someone else’s life has been covered and calmed by Jesus, the One who loves you best.
Once you realize or are reminded of this, you can forgive others.