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Source and Model of Forgiveness

February 14, 2022

Daily Scripture

Isaiah 55:6-8

6 Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
call him while he is yet near.
7 Let the wicked abandon their ways
and the sinful their schemes.
Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.
8 My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Pastor Darryl Burton’s tragic (yet finally winning) story of unjust detention shows that we don’t move past events like that simply by natural strength. The prophet Isaiah described God’s generous forgiveness. “God’s ideas and God’s plans are often different from ours….[Israelites] have to give up their formulation of how they should be restored, give up their plans, and believe that the word of promise and commission that God has issued will indeed produce its fruit in their restoration as a people. They don’t have to hesitate about doing so; God will be quite happy to pardon them.” *

  • Isaiah 55 observed that God’s wonderfully merciful ways are very different from our natural patterns. How does Isaiah’s picture of the gap between God’s mercy and our ways of relating speak to your heart? Are there persons (or groups of people) to whom you do not want to show mercy? Are you convinced that God’s ways are indeed different from, and higher than, ours?
  • Two chapters earlier, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 declared that the person God called “my servant” would conquer evil, not by brute force, but by taking all of evil’s worst upon himself. “God’s power is at its greatest not in his destruction of the wicked but in his taking all the wickedness of the earth into himself and giving back love.” ** How do stories like Pastor Burton’s show that God’s ways are truly higher than ours, absorbing and destroying evil’s power to lastingly hurt others?

O Jesus, I’m not God—but you can shape me to be more and more like you. I offer my life to your re-shaping hand, because in the end your forgiving way of life is the best way to live. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves on the Worship Experience team at Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

One of my favorite authors is Henri Nouwen. I discovered Nouwen during my undergraduate studies at Olivet Nazarene University. There was just something about his writing that seemed to resonate with me at such a developmental time in my faith. Years later, I would read something he wrote on forgiveness, and it would transform the way in which I viewed forgiveness and why forgiveness was and is such an important part of choosing to walk with Christ. Nouwen wrote:

“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, ‘I no longer hold your offense against you,’ but there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the ‘offended one.’ As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to freedom for the children of God.” *

In 2015, I found myself going through a very painful divorce. Since no one ever expects to get divorced, there’s no preparation for what to do when the pain, bitterness, and hatred flood into your heart. Perhaps those emotions took a greater hold of my heart because there once was a deep love and commitment to this person and my heart still remembered that. The end of my marriage was a pain like none other I’d ever experienced. It surpassed the pain of losing a parent. Once I moved from hurt to anger, I knew that unless I figured out how to forgive, bitterness was going to settle in, and I would be trapped with this pain forever.

One day, I was sitting in my car yelling at God that I could not do this anymore. I couldn’t keep hurting this much over this circumstance. I felt stuck, I felt trapped, it was difficult to breathe. I needed God to do something. And just as surely as I felt the bitterness fill my heart instantly when my divorce was finalized, I immediately felt the presence God reach into my car and hold me when I cried out to him. For the first time in a long time, I felt the peace that I’d been praying for within my reach. But first…I needed to forgive.

The idea of forgiveness sounded absurd to me. Why would God require me to forgive my ex-husband? Slowly, God changed my heart and helped me to see that in forgiving him, I wasn’t excusing him from what he had done. But by forgiving him, I was setting my heart free. As Henri Nouwen wrote…I didn’t need to carry him and those painful memories around with me. Forgiveness set me free and opened my heart up to receive the healing and love God so desperately wanted to give me. Even more, in forgiving him, I opened myself up to be loved and to love others more freely.

Forgiveness is a concept that seems equally easy and hard. I think God places such an emphasis on forgiveness because he knows that we can’t truly go out into the world and love our neighbor if we carry bitterness and resentment in our heart toward others who have wronged us. Lack of forgiveness holds us hostage and keeps us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness in our own lives. Often, the lessons on forgiveness that God teaches us are uncomfortable and can even hurt. But the sweet peace of Christ that transforms our hearts when we forgive others surpasses all understanding.

* From

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 212-213.

** T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, ed. The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 222.