The Difficulty in Forgiving


Unforgiveness is rooted in the fear that God will not repay evil according to justice.

-International House of Prayer

This quote from a Christian organization out of Kansas City hit home for me. In just a mere fifteen words, they cut to the heart of the struggle to forgive. This is really a question about God and His character. The quote is especially profound and applicable if the struggle is over forgiving someone who has wronged one deeply like an adulterous ex-spouse.*

How does one learn to trust God to deal with the wrong justly when God allowed such a gross injustice to occur?

In other words, we put God’s character and goodness in question in this moment. Our felt experience is that God is not worth trusting. We fear handing back the “judge and executioner” roles to Someone who didn’t protect us when we needed Him to do so.

So, how do we learn to trust God with such horrible wrongs?

We take a step of faith. Choosing to give all the betrayal, treachery, and lies to God for Him to handle is an act of faith. It says that we choose to believe that God will handle our especially painful injustice justly. We are putting our faith into action–i.e. a faith that says we will choose to believe God is good and just even though we do not feel that right now.

This is an act of the will. And we will likely have to repeat it as the feelings flood us lying to us that God isn’t to be trusted with this. A deep wound takes time to heal–both naturally and spiritually.

Yet the only way forward is to give our pain and the wrongs committed against us to the One who knows the deepest pain of injustices and rejection. We were not designed to be the Judge and Executioner. Our shoulders are not strong enough to carry those mantles or the burdens of the injustices forever.

God is worthy of our trust.

He will see that evil is confronted with justice and righteousness. 

For God is truly good and just!

*I am talking about forgiveness regarding our relationship with God. If the cheating spouse does not repent, we are not to forgive as Jesus taught repentance as a condition for such in Luke 17:3. In order to get free of the pain of the injustices, we eventually DO need to hand the injustices over to God regardless of the adulterous spouse’s state of repentance, though. I am speaking about that process in this post.

4 thoughts on “The Difficulty in Forgiving”

  1. Not that I am anywhere near being able to do this, but I have read that we should try to forgive the person who wronged us. Not for their benefit, but for ours. It takes great grace to be able to do so, but it is freeing. You are not saying what they did is okay and you certainly aren’t going to go out of your way to spend time with them. I honestly don’t think my ex-husband will EVER repent. I feel like if he did, it would bring me peace. But, really only God can bring me true peace. So, can you help me sort this out? I’m inclined to believe that if I don’t forgive until he repents, I’m going to be left carrying the weight of all this muck he’s left behind. Not only am I harboring resentment towards him, but also toward his parents. They stood by and watched him destroy our 20 year marriage and his relationships with our children. It’s just this big anchor that keeps pulling me down. So, are we essentially handing them and the whole situation over to God? And, in doing so, liberating ourselves?

    1. Yes, Mary. That is exactly what we do when dealing with such injustices sans repentance…we entrust them to our wise, good, and just God. Then those things are a matter between then and God…we can move on.

  2. Thanks for addressing this DM! The betrayal of my husband and a medical condition that immediately followed (and made worse by incompetent doctors) all but destroyed my Christian faith and relationship with Christ. I felt abandoned and betrayed by God as well! It has been a stubborn step of faith to hang on to Him and His promises and a conscious act of will to keep trusting God to work all things out for the good of those who love Christ Jesus!
    Because of my experience I can understand how people turn away from God and to something else for comfort to temporarily escape the pain of abandonment and betrayal. Most Christians and churches don’t know how to minister to victimize of adultery or want to acknowledge that we exist! Please keep up what you are doing. I believe your ministry is saving souls and lives!

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