Justice or Forgiveness?

“What do you want from me?” my estranged husband yelled. It was yet another of our many arguments. My daughter was in a psychiatric hospital for treatment due to his sexual abuse. He had broken my heart beyond repair. I marveled that he could even ask such a question.

I told him, “I want you to hurt as much as I do.”

Understandably, when someone hurts us, we hold that person accountable for his or her actions. He/she wounded us and now he/she must pay the price and suffer the consequences. We want justice served. In reality, we want him/her to hurt too! There was a time when I wanted my now-ex husband to hurt as much, if not more, as I was hurting, but rather than demand justice, I chose to forgive him instead.

All too often, forgiveness is mistakenly understood to be approval of the wrong, or denying that the wrong even occurred. The cliché “forgive and forget” trips us up too. God forgives and forgets, but he only commands us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Simply stated, forgiveness is giving up our right to exact justice and trusting God to make things right.

Be encouraged, our forgiveness and healing is accomplished through God’s power, rather than from our willpower. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). Go to God in prayer and ask for his help to forgive those who have wounded you, and to bring healing, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Forgiveness is a choice. We can forgive and find healing, or demand justice and grow bitter. Which choice will you make?

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).

For two articles of forgiveness read “The Gift” and “Splinters” at GloryandStrength.com

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010

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