As I’ve sat with so many women listening to their forgiveness stories, I’ve found that usually the ones who are willing to share are those who have gone through a significant betrayal. Each of them certainly can relate to Joseph. Others don’t have big situations but must work through a multitude of little offenses. Joseph also would have experienced smaller forgiveness opportunities, perhaps from other prisoners, the warden of the jail, or the cupbearer who forgot him. How did Joseph determine how to handle the myriad of different hurts and learn to trust God with the big and small things? Like Joseph, we must ask God for wisdom to discover when our pain is from the difficulties of living in this world, our own ultra-sensitivity, or real wrongs perpetrated against us.
As we look at the things others have done to us, we also must consider the extent of the damage. Adam Hamilton uses the example of filling a backpack with our unforgiven blows that come in different sizes. In his book Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go, he explains the difference between pebbles, medium sized rocks, and big rocks.1 Sometimes, there is no one to forgive. We may be hurting from circumstances or a perceived slight when no one maliciously set out to hurt us. Other times we make an allowance for a fault choosing to let love cover the offense. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Sometimes sins against us must be confronted. This is when we follow Matthew 18:15-17 and first go privately to our offender eventually involving others or the church depending on whether the situation escalates or not. Although we might like to just sing a song from the Disney movie Frozen and be free to “Let it Go,” sometimes God calls us to take some steps in the releasing process. Ask Him to make clear what next steps you may need to take in your flight to freedom. If Joseph could forgive with God’s help, I believe we can, too. Next week, we’ll look at how this is possible, whether our backpack is full of pebbles or boulders.
Take a few minutes to meditate on and pray this verse to your loving God, who longs to help you discern through the haze of your pain:
O LORD, listen to my cry;
give me the discerning mind you promised. (Psalm 119:169)