The Joy of Forgiveness

People. Do you have some in your life? They add flavour and fun and laughter. But sometimes….

Well, I came to work today and discovered that someone – I think I know who – had put about 300 balloons in my office. Apparently she and some friends had some extra time. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the guy who came home to find that someone had managed to sneak a live goat into his living room. Imagine standing there watching a goat eat your sofa cushion. I would gather up my belongings and move to a cave in the Peruvian jungle.

Another guy sneaked into his friend’s house and hid ten alarm clocks – in cabinets, behind couches, in hard to reach places. He set the first one to go off at 2:30 am, with the rest ringing in at 15-minute intervals. I think he became a “former friend” after that.

A four-year-old once prayed, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” If people have piled your trash baskets high with junk and you’d like to bring the joy back, you’ve come to the right place today. But how do we live with a grin when people around us keep turning that grin upside down?

Several years ago, researchers asked nearly 10,000 U.S. residents, “Would you say this is true or false: I’ve held grudges against people for years.” The study showed that those who answered “yes” reported higher rates of heart disease and cardiac arrest, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who were able to forgive. Unforgiveness is toxic. If you are living with some hanging around your house, it could literally be killing you. I asked some students recently what happens to them when they don’t forgive. There was silence. Then the responses came: I feel angry. I feel guilty. My joy is gone. I’m irritated real easily. I get headaches. I have no peace. I can’t laugh.

There’s a little plaque hanging in our house that helps me in this area. It’s from Psalm 103. It’s amazing. Listen, “God does not deal with us according to our sins.” Wow. True forgiveness begins with gratitude for the size of the debt God has paid for me. Then it means refusing to talk about my rights. In fact, I can’t stand on my rights and forgive. Remember it’s God’s strength alone in us that gives us the supernatural power to extend the same forgiveness to others that God has shown us.

Let’s refuse to allow unforgiveness to steal our health or our sanity or our laughter for one more day. And now, I think I’ll call my daughter and forgive her for putting these balloons in my office.