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When we’ve been hurt by another person and it’s not fixed, what do we do? When they neither seem to notice what they have done wrong, nor care about the pain they have inflicted, let alone say they’re sorry, how do we live?

Eva Mozes Kor along with her twin sister, Miriam, were taken to Auschwitz at age ten where Dr. Josef Mengele used them for medical experiments. Although Eva and Miriam were liberated from Auschwitz at the end of the war, Miriam died in 1993 from cancer attributed to the ordeals she had undergone. No one else in their family survived the war.

Eva lives in Indiana where she has opened a Holocaust museum and education center. Eva is an advocate for forgiveness.

Eva’s story is somber, but her testimony is also astonishing because she has forgiven her Nazi perpetrators.

How, I wonder, could Eva possibly forgive these people for the pain, humiliation, and horrors inflicted on her and her sister and their family?

Most of us have not experienced anything as horrific as the Holocaust. However, all of us know pain inflicted by another person. And although our experience is not as brutal as Eva’s, our own pain is the worst we know and forgiving our tormentors can be hard to do.

Where do we find the strength to forgive offenses committed against us?

Scripture says:

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer. Matthew 5:44 (MSG)

Prayer, however, is not a magic fix. Prayer does not guarantee we reach the state of forgiveness. Nor do you need to pray to arrive at forgiveness and reconciliation.

Eva makes no mention of prayer, instead she says “forgiveness is nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment.”

Forgiveness, then, is not purely a Christian distinctive or course of action.

Just the other day I read an online article by the Mayo clinic on how to let go of grudges and bitterness. There was no mention of God or prayer.

So why does the Bible want us to respond with prayer? What difference does it make if we are trying to forgive someone?

When we turn to prayer it becomes less about us and more about God. Prayer shows the orientation of our hearts to be turned upwards to God instead of inward on ourselves.

Prayer changes my perspective from self-preservation to God’s transformation.

Vengeance and unforgiveness are not my business; they are God’s concern. Goodness and forgiveness are the duty of a child of God; and the obligation of a good God.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, says Matthew 5:45.

It’s hard to forgive when someone has wronged you. I have prayed day after day for many months for a relationship that seems unfixable.

We have to work at forgiveness, but when we do, in the end, it gives God what is rightfully his—the glory.

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Linking up with Suzie Eller at #liveFree, Katie Reid at #RaRaLinkup, Jaime Wiebel at #SittingAmongFriends, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart and Arabah Joy at #GraceandTruth

  • Forgiveness is tough! I think it would be so much harder, though, without prayer – without asking God for help with the forgiveness and continually staying rooted in His strength to move forward.

  • When someone has hurt me, or judged me incorrectly and is not sorry, I find it very hard to forgive. I want them to feel badly over my hurt! Yet God’s grace and mercy is available to us all. Your words that ‘forgiveness (is) the duty of a child of God’ resonates with me deeply. Thank you!

  • “Prayer changes my perspective from self-preservation to God’s transformation.” So true! We just can’t see how God is working it all out, but He is. Our job is to trust.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Prayer changes my perspective from self-preservation to God’s transformation. That will preach or teach. It’s hard to see that perspective when we are living in our pain. This is one reason so many do not do as the bible says, go to the one who had hurt you, forgive them, which does not mean you have to continue to have the same relationship with them or any at all. But for our sake, for freedom in our walk, for peace to flood us again we must at all cost change our perspective to God’s. Great post.

  • I love this post Rachel. It is so real and speaks such truth of our hearts and that of our restoring King. I loved your tweet and the line before, “When we turn to prayer it becomes less about us and more about God. Prayer shows the orientation of our hearts to be turned upwards to God instead of inward on ourselves.” Great post. As always, I am so glad I stopped by here today. Your picture wasn’t on your link so I got a pleasant surprise when I stopped by today! Thank you for sharing with us at Sitting Among Friends on Wednesdays. I look forward to seeing you again this week.

  • Great post, Rachel! When I pray, I picture Jesus in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. In my prayer, I take the hand of person who has wronged me and I walk them out to the pasture where Jesus is…I place their hand in Jesus’ nail-scarred hand, and I walk away, thanking Jesus for He is working in my life and in the life of the one I am forgiving, and for how much He loves us both. Many blessings to you!

    • Beth, I love that picture of Jesus in the green pastures of Psalm 23. When we use the imagery of the scriptures in prayer, it brings us so much more deeply into our time with God, don’t you think?

  • there was a time in my marriage when i was told by people ‘outside’ of my life in the flames, that they would never – could never – forgive the things that had been done to me. and for a short time, i thought i would never either. but then, in the midst of prayer, i saw the truth.
    there were things in my life that someone might have said the same thing to Jesus about me. that they would never – could never – forgive the things that i had done.
    and yet He did. He would and He could and He did. i was forgiven for much less than what had been done to me, and at the same time, Jesus also forgave the one who had wounded me.
    who was i to be so arrogant to not forgive, when i had been forgiven? who was i to be so self-righteous to not forgive, when he had also been forgiven by One who forgave all? by One who sacrificed and loved more than we could ever imagine?
    the greatest act of love is forgiveness. not necessarily love for the one we are forgiving, but love for ourselves

    • Cindi, what beautiful and tender words you have written. And what a beautiful witness you are in modeling what Christ has done for us. Your heart has blown me away. I think of all the women in the Gospels who followed Jesus, and stood near the cross and were with him to the end, because they knew what he had done for them in their lives. You remind me of them. They were wonderful witnesses, too.

  • Prayer and forgiveness makes it less about us and more about God–those are words I needed to hear today. Thank you. It’s so easy to focus on myself and forget that I’m supposed to be forgiving someone else.

  • I’ve forgiven my boyfriend on cheating while we were dating and after time and prayer we got married. Today we are three years married and are happier than we could ever imagine. Forgiveness is easy but giving back trust to that person who hurt you is even harder. I love your article and I believe forgiveness is the first step to the beginning of renewal in relationships.

  • Forgiveness is hard, however it only destroys one’s peaceful feeling and grows if it is not dealt with. I usually am one to confront the offense no, it is not always successful, however, the Bible does say to make things right with someone when you kneel at the alter to pray.

    Also, I have found that if you do not forgive, you are giving the other person control over you, instead of taking it to God, and leave it there. Time is a healer also, and we get in a hurry to feel good again. Human, no one wants to feel the sadness of a broken trust or relationship or unforgiveness.

    Thanks for sharing, love the words.

  • Prayer is an on-going conversation that ebbs and flows throughout our day. It’s conversing with the One who loved and forgave us first. But that ebb and flow can be disrupted when unforgiveness sets in and bitterness, anger, and even hate take root. It can disrupt our joy for days, even years. I’m actually writing my personal story of moving from unforgiveness to forgiveness in the form of a book/bible study now. Real forgiveness leads to real freedom – freedom in Christ Jesus – and there’s nothing like it in the world. Thank you for the challenge, Rachel. It’s definitely worth the effort.

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