When hurt is deep, real forgiveness has to go just as deep

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Unforgiveness blocks the flow of healing. It has sometimes been likened to having clogged spiritual arteries. The healing love of God cannot flow through us when we are full of resentment, bitterness and unresolved anger.

The way towards healing is to choose to forgive. It is a matter of the will.

Only by the decision to forgive can the heart be free from the poison of resentments that damages our physical and spiritual health.

Fr Richard McAlear tells the story of a woman who came to him for healing prayer. She had cancer. After some time with her he realised she was very bitter.

She was estranged from her sister. They had fallen out of relationship over an inheritance battle.

At a certain point in the ministry he said to the woman: “You seem to be angry at your sister.”

She replied: “Yes, I hate her and I want to see her burn in hell.”

Fr Richard told her: “You cannot be healed of your cancer unless you forgive your sister.”

She thought about that for a moment, then said: “I’d rather have cancer.”

She had a choice. If she wanted to be free, she did not have to develop affectionate feelings towards her sister, but she had to choose to let go of the resentment.

Praise God, she eventually did forgive her sister from the heart, but only after a number of months.

To her credit this tortured woman didn’t try to fake forgiveness. The depth of her pain was such that she needed time to make the decision.

Otherwise she would continue in her living hell.

When the hurt is deep, forgiveness, if it is going to be real, has to go just as deep.

Marvellously she was also healed of her cancer.

Some of the saddest people in life are those who carry bitter resentment within them. It is a poison in the soul, which can distort one’s whole interior life.

It is a sickness that begins in the spirit, but then influences the mind and emotions, and can even become manifest in the body.

The spiritual and bodily aspects of our being are deeply interrelated and affect each other.

Physical disorders such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, depression, nightmares, nervous twitches, excessive stress, arthritis, and many other conditions can have a psychological or spiritual origin.

Resentment is a major source of psychosomatic illness.

No wonder Jesus likens it to being thrown to the torturers.

It is a form of interior torture, a sort of hell, which we inflict on ourselves. The only way out is through forgiveness. The great gift of forgiveness is that it sets us free.

It is not about being fair to the one who offended us. Rather it is about being fair to ourselves.

Forgiveness opens our prison door, and we can walk free.

This is an extract from Fr Ken Barker’s book His Name is Mercy.