I remember watching Forrest Gump well. In fact, I watched the movie a couple of times that year and I’ve seen it several times since. It’s a great movie with a compelling drama that is filled with love, adventure, humor, and a lot more. The bonus is the incredible music sound-track that accompanied the movie. But in 1994 I was only twenty-one years old. For the most part, the world was still ahead of me. I still lived with my parents and I was neither married nor did I have any children. All in all, life was easy. Or at least my naiveté made life appear easy. I had no idea that sometimes life isn’t so easy.
There’s a lot of good that happens in life but not all the time is life so good. Sometimes life can be difficult. Sometimes life becomes difficult through just an unfortunate set of circumstances and sometimes life just becomes difficult because someone else has done something wrong to us.
When the later happens, we become angry and rightfully so. Anger is a normal emotional response to wrong. God gets angry at times and so do we. The Bible doesn’t condemn anger, it only tells us not to sin in our anger (cf. Eph 4:26). But if we allow anger to captivate us, it becomes unhealthy and sinful. Anger becomes toxic to our soul. In order to avoid being poisoned by anger, we must learn to let it go and that means forgiving those who have done wrong to us. Forgiving those who have done us wrong is a lesson we are continually learning in life.
“…And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”
Every day I pray the Lord’s Prayer at least once and sometimes more than once. In this prayer, we pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we share in the kingdom so that the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven we live a life of shalōm, the Hebrew word for peace. Shalōm is more than just the absence of violence; it’s living in the wholeness of life that God has created for us. In this sense, shalōm involves the ability to love others and joyfully desire the best for them. Loving others and seeking their best interest is difficult when we’re filled with anger or any other negative emotion such as despair or frustration. So in praying for the kingdom of God to come, we are praying for shalōm.
At the same time, in the Lord’s Prayer, we are also asking for God to forgive us as we forgive others. So we must forgive those who we believe have done wrong to me and if we can’t, and instead cling to our anger, we are then allowing satan to rob us of the shalom of God’s kingdom. So why not choose to forgive! Forgiving others doesn’t make the wrong right but it does release us from the shackles of that wrong and from the anger that will quickly turn to poison.
When others do us wrong, they need our forgiveness just as we need forgiveness for the wrongs that we do. And who are we not to forgive when the Lord forgives us? So let us forgive!