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Forgive, for your own good!
Rape, incest, abuse, abandonment-these are just a few of the things that teenagers have to face in our present generation that they never really had to deal with before. With all of this hurt in the home, it is no wonder so many teens struggle with forgiveness. It would definitely be hard to forgive a dad who completely deserted his family and left behind a mom and kids to struggle and fend for themselves. It would also be difficult to forgive a mom who had physically abused her children and left scars and pain that will never go away.
So what is a young person to do? Those who were supposed to love and care for him or her most in this world have been the ones who forsook them and hurt them more than anyone else. How can one deal with this pain and heartache? God tells us in Ephesians 4:32 that we are to forgive one another. When the victim reads this, he may at first become defensive. The thought comes to mind, "You just don't understand what I have been through!" And the truth is, many times we don't understand exactly what the other person has experienced, but we are told by our loving God that we must forgive.
So why is it so important to forgive? First of all, we must forgive because failure to do so will only cause us more pain and suffering. It has been said that the one who is bitter over some past experience forces himself to relive the terrible incident every day. As long as we hold the bitterness inside and refuse to release the person who wronged us into God's hands, we will keep punishing ourselves with the hurt and the pain. A person who is bitter and unforgiving will revisit their hurt every single day!
Secondly, it is important to forgive because God has told us in Mark 11:26 that if we refuse to forgive others then God will not forgive us; thus, we break our fellowship with the only one who can truly give us the peace and comfort that is essential to overcome this pain and suffering. We have to forgive in order for God to forgive us.
So maybe you are convinced that forgiveness is the way to go, but now your question is, "How do I forgive?" Well, according to Ephesians 4:32, we are to forgive "even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us." How does God forgive? He forgives freely and fully. He chooses to remove our trespasses from us to remember them no more. That's the key! If we are going to truly forgive, we must make a rational decision to do so. God will not make you forgive.
Once we have come to the point where we are ready to forgive, we then can go to God and receive His help in doing so. Only He can give us what it takes to forgive some of the terrible things we might have experienced. He can give us the ability to forgive and also the opportunity to move on and leave the past behind us. That's what He wants to do! So, young person, are you struggling with bitterness from a past situation? It's time to forgive. You will do yourself the greatest favor ever. Just remember how great a debt that God forgave you and forgiving others will be much easier.