We understand the need to forgive, yet cannot abide its difficulty. Often, we hide from others when forgiveness should be forthcoming.
At times, forgiveness has its limits; we cannot forgive, nor forget. But, according to Exodus (20:6), taking the “medicine in forgiveness” allows us to experience God’s love, joy and peace for generations, provided we love God and obey His commands.
Joseph, in Genesis (50:19), uses the medicine of forgiveness in reconciling with his brothers, as requested by Jacob, their dying father.
Joseph said, “Don’t be afraid, am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joseph knew that absolution of sin comes only from God, and that what God intends, will occur. Despite the bad intentions and ill-conceived plans of Joseph’s brothers, God prevailed.
In family matters, Satan takes special advantage of our refusal to forgive. Siblings, locked in feuds, spend years apart, not speaking, and denying their children family associations. These unresolved grudges eat away and destroy families, and prevent the healing of even minor grievances.
All of us are in need of forgiveness at some time. “What is the medicinal power of forgiveness?” we might ask.
The answer is simple: Love, Joy, and Peace. And, according to Genesis (50:19), forgiveness saves lives and releases from bondage those suffering guilt. When freed by forgiveness, we are able to pursue God’s plans for our future.
As the economy weakens, many are turning to God and to the church. Monetary contributions are down, even though attendance is up. Many have no money to give. But we must, ourselves, be generous to those seeking solutions to their problems, and who are anxious and afflicted. We must impart to them that God provides spiritual comfort and fulfillment for His people in times such as these.
Research confirms that emotionally depressed individuals need to change their spending behaviors. We all need to spend time around positive people. Secondly, we need to spend time building up meaningful relationships between brothers and sisters, parents, husbands and wives, and children. We may spend time exercising, walking, running, bike riding, swimming, or playing tennis, by choice. And, as easily, we can choose to spend time helping the less fortunate, feeding the hungry, reading to homeless children, or teaching parenting or computer skills to those under-employed or jobless.
Our own “extra” dollars are better spent on experiences—a movie, play, or concert—than on new “things.” For many, myself included, the best medicine derives from exhausting oneself in the service of others.
While in prison, Nelson Mandela (like Joseph), became committed to seeing his situation as a learning experience. Both Nelson and Joseph, when released, rose to prominence in their respective nations.
When you feel imprisoned by your circumstances, listen carefully for God’s word. He may, at any time, speak to you about your future, as He did to Nelson and Joseph. There might be for you, too, some “Medicine in Forgiveness.”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.