Then Peter came up and said to him [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matt. 18:21-22
Jesus, I come to you right now with joy in my heart and knots in my gut. The joy is about the exhaustive forgiveness I have in you. The knots are about the costly implications of that same forgiveness. As I pray for myself, I pray for others with the same struggle to love well in broken stories that just won’t seem to go away.
How long does it take for the hurt to heal, Jesus? When will I be completely free—no longer having a beautiful day sabotaged by an unresolved conflict? Running into an old friend, with whom I’ve shared a lot of life and no small heartache, reminded me that everything’s not right yet. That run-in was kind of like bumping a previously broken shin into the corner of a low-sitting coffee table. I winced with pain, thought less than loving things, and simmered for a couple of hours. That’s not the way of grace, but it was my way, nonetheless.
Jesus, I thought I’d already forgiven him from my heart. I thought I was already healed. I thought I’d dealt with this thing a long time ago. That’s just not the case. Out of sight might be out of mind, but it’s not out of the memory band of betrayal and loss.
So I come to you today for seventy-times-seven grace. I’m being held hostage by my own unforgiveness. Certainly the gospel is big enough and powerful enough to set me free. So I humble myself before you, Jesus. I may never enjoy the gift of my friend’s repentance, at least this side of heaven, but there’s no justification for me tying my repentance to his.
I’m to forgive him as you’ve forgiven me, Jesus. It’s as simple and as costly as that. No, I’m not to be a doormat, but I am to be a doorway to the miracle of reconciliation. By the work of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to show me what that will entail in these next several weeks. Some broken relationships are less complex than this one. Some are no-brainers in terms of applying the gospel. But this one’s different.
Jesus, you’ve promised me all the wisdom I need, and I’ll take it. But I also ask you for a great measure of determination, strength, and follow-through. Low-sitting coffee tables can morph into coiled rattlesnakes in time, and the venom of unforgiveness is just too toxic to ignore. Untie the knots in my gut with your liberating hands. So very Amen I pray, in your redeeming and restoring name.