April 17, 2024

Finding Forgiveness

Jill Morikone

I released the woman’s hands after prayer. Her story was painful—a husband who had walked out on both their marriage and children, preferring another’s company to her own. Who contributed to their breakup was largely irrelevant. Pain is pain, and forgiveness needs to be extended for healing to take root and flourish. “Thank you,” she breathed, managing a small smile as she turned away.

The next in line took her place. A stooped man with gnarled hands took his hat off and raised his eyes to mine. I looked into his lined, weather-beaten face. What had brought him forward after the message? I searched his face for a clue. His light-blue eyes watered, but I couldn’t tell if it was from age or emotion.

It’s amazing to me how much we keep hidden inside, and the depth of such pain and sorrow. Every time I speak on the topic of healing from a biblical perspective, how God can take our brokenness and bring forgiveness, peace, and wholeness, I’m astounded at the number of people who resonate with this message. How often we strive to keep it together, while being ashamed that we still experience the reality of pain in this world. After all, we’re supposed to be Christ’s followers. Shouldn’t we have it all together?

The old man’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Jill, would you pray for me?”

I slowly brought him into focus. Yes, those were tears in his eyes. “How can I pray for you, my brother?”

He shifted his stance as his eyes dropped to the floor. “If I could truly know God has forgiven me, if I only knew that, then I would have peace.”

I reached out and grasped his wrinkled hands. “Have you asked God for His forgiveness?”

His voice dropped to a whisper. “Only every day.” He looked up as the tears spilled over and rolled down his face. “Every day for the past 45 years.”

My heart broke for him. How is one prayer any different from 365 other prayers, offered in desperation over the space of 45 years? What level of pain existed in his heart? How can Satan so twist our minds that we feel we must earn forgiveness, or afflict our souls with more penance, before God will deign to answer?

I reflected on the anguish in my brother’s heart and the needless pain we often carry around. If I were to share what I’m seeking to learn, here are my keys to peace:

Don’t allow shame or condemnation to separate you from Jesus. Instead, receive His freely offered forgiveness. After all, Jesus’ blood cleanses every sin.

Don’t listen to your feelings. Satan is good at doubt. Instead, accept by faith what God’s Word says about you: you are forgiven, cleansed, justified!

Don’t walk backwards, wallowing in the mire of regret. Instead, move forward in confidence, knowing whose you are.

Finally, speak openly of what God has done for you. Sharing your testimony encourages both you and others.