Q. I had an abusive father. When he was on his death bed in the hospital he requested that I come see him by having a nurse call me. I did not go to see him. I thought now you will know some of the pain I endured when I was growing up and could not protect myself. I’ve come to regret very much that feeling of anger and have asked God to forgive me for it, but I don’t know if I’ve ever really come to a place of truly forgiving my father. Whenever I believe I have forgiven him another thought appears at some point and I’m angry all over again. Is forgiveness more of a process?
A. I think that forgiveness can often be a process, especially where such traumatic experiences are involved. This is where 2 Cor. 10:3-5 comes in handy. Each time a memory brings back the anger we thought we were over, we take it captive and make it obedient to Christ.
We do this by making something called a faith choice. We choose to forgive again even though we don’t feel like it. We do so in faith that the Lord will align our feelings with our choices.
Over time this will happen, and thoughts of this kind will no longer have an effect on us. When that happens we know we’ve truly forgiven the other person.
James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”