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Forgiveness has been a controversial topic in the media lately. Months before forgiveness made its way onto the headlines, I just happened to be at my local CVS pharmacy and saw the book, “Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget,” by Dr. David Stoop.
Personally, I needed some clarity about forgiveness and that’s why I purchased the book. No one really talks about forgiveness on a regular basis. We tend to expect the topic of forgiveness to be tackled in the pulpit. It also can be too private an issue that we don’t want to reveal about ourselves in terms of how forgiving we are or how much we feel we need to be forgiven.
I wanted to be in an objective frame of mind as I was researching my upcoming post on the very notable years of 1619 – 2019, the official date marking 400 years of the Atlantic slave trade from the coast of Africa to America. I thought forgiveness would be a good bridge to cross before I gather my thoughts commemorating the horrors of African American slavery.
You will find a more complete list of how many times the words forgiveness, forgive, forgave is used in Scripture in a Concordance of the Bible. I only quote a few Scriptural references in this post.
All too often, heavy topics like forgiveness cause people to not want to participate in discussions that expose themselves. I am choosing to view Scripture as a more authoritative tool towards gaining clarity on what forgiveness is.
I’ll like to start my book review by quoting some Scripture in the New King James Version translation. Some quotes will seem to be not connected to the issue at hand and others will be familiar to those in the habit of reading their bibles
Esther 7:7 NKJV “…but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life….”
Mark 11:25-26 NKJV “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses ”
The prayer of The Messiah found in Mathew 6: – read this verse in the translation of your choice.
Luke 17:3-4 NKJV “Take heed to yourselves, if your brother sins against you; rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.”
Mathew 18:32-34 “…You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”
These are various scenarios where forgiveness should be granted, forgiveness has been denied, and lastly the hypocrisy of not forgiving.
As you can see this topic on forgiveness is not an easy one. It is more complicated than choosing to forgive or not to forgive.
Forgiveness touches us all whether we admit it or not.
Some of us have observed how easy it is for some children to forgive. And we see that the older we get, the harder it is for us to forgive.
We don’t know how to forgive. Those who were our guardians and parents at times found it hard to teach us how to forgive. It’s a struggle we all face.
Forgiveness is a multi-layered action. It can involve a simple first step of choosing to forgive and gut wrenching internal steps utilizing your mind and heart.
The book, “Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget,” helps you to navigate your options towards how you should go about forgiving. Forgiveness is a communication skill that can be learned.
What caught my attention regarding the title of Dr. Stoop’s book is the fact that there are crimes, insults, events on an individual and national level that are hard to forget due to the level of trauma inflicted on a physical and emotional level. Extreme pain that takes time to recover from.
We find in the news one tragedy after another reported. How do we heal in a culture where we are bombarded by crisis after crisis? When we report to our jobs on a daily basis, the most plugged in of our co-workers is the one who can inform the rest of group the surprising details of the unthinkable. Our minds need a rest from all the madness.
Dr. David Stoop’s tiny book is a slow read. Forgiveness cannot be rushed. On page 157, Dr. Stoop states, “a “too quick” forgiveness doesn’t help the healing process.”
On review of the quoted Scriptural references in this post, we find Haman not shown mercy or forgiveness. We find no remorseful statements by Haman, he just wants to save his own skin even though he planned genocide for hire. If you read the book of Esther you’ll find this to be detailed in the story. In contrast, the last Scriptural quote emphasizes that we ought to show pity and compassion especially when pity and compassion have been shown to us.
Forgiveness can be withdrawn and forgiveness can be demanded of us.
The media is notorious for instigating controversy where resolution is needed. Forgiveness creates alot of emotion within our thought processes.
Page 103 of Dr.Stoop’s book states, “…if we try to forgive without experiencing anger, we are not really forgiving; we are merely trying to excuse the behavor.” This statement in Dr. Stoop’s book helped cleared up for me what healthy forgiveness looks like in the person doing the forgiving. This would obviously be an internal process before one can proceed with external forgiveness.
Parents or guardians of children understand the childrearing principle that the more bad behaviors are excused, the worst bad behaviors will become. All of us learn to avoid bad choices from the consequences we suffer from the bad choices we make.
Reading Dr. Stoop’s book helped me to gain a right perspective of what forgiveness is. I was challenged to think on a deeper level than I thought possible.
On page 25 Dr. Stoop quotes Thomas Szasz, MD,
“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget, the wise forgive but do not forget.”
This prompted me to contrast the statement of the Creator I believe in who desires to forgive. I also know that this same Creator will punish us when we sin. Nevertheless, to those who believe in a Creator know that this same Creator forgives in a more profound way than any human can. This Scriptural reference below from the book of Psalms details how complete that forgiveness from a Creator is.
Psalms 103:12 NKJV “…As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Pick up the book “Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget,” by Dr. David Stoop. This book will assist you into a deeper study on the topic of forgiveness and how necessary it is to our health.
We all need to be forgiven and we all must learn how to forgive.