The Phases of Forgiveness—2 Corinthians 2:5-8

Today’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13

“Nana, I’m sorry.”

“Of course I forgive you.”

It’s so easy to forgive my grandkids.

But what about the people in our lives that aren’t so easy to forgive, the people who have deeply hurt or disappointed us?

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me.  Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough.  Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.  So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. —2 Corinthians 2:5-8

Forgive and Comfort?

The last thing I want for my grandchildren is discouragement.  I can’t stand it when their hearts are broken because they’ve disappointed me; so it’s easy to comfort them.

But forgiving and comforting an adult, who should know better, so they won’t be discouraged—WHAT!

I’m the one who needs comforting…

I thought forgiving was hard, but forgiving and comforting…

How is that possible?

There’s only one way… with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Depending on the depth of the hurt it may take a while.  In the past I’ve gotten upset when I couldn’t instantly forgive and forget, but over years I’ve learned that there are phases of forgiveness.

As Paul said, in today’s reading…it’s time to forgive.

Let’s get started:

A phase is a distinct stage of development.  The phases may be different for each person.

Here are the 10 phases of forgiveness I’ve experienced:

Phase 1—I can’t forgive.  I’ve been hurt, I’m angry, I want to hurt back.

Phase 2—I don’t want to forgive. The other person(s) doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

Phase 3—I should forgive (Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 17:3-4) but it’s so hard—Lord help me!

Phase 4—I’m trying to forgive but I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it (Luke 6:45).

Phase 5—I have moments of forgiveness, a minute here a second there.

Phase 6—I have periods of forgiveness.  The pain is starting to going away!

Phase 7—I am completely free of the pain of unforgiveness!

Phase 8—I want the person(s) who hurt me to be free of the pain as well.  I don’t want them to be overcome with discouragement (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).

Phase 9—I make an effort comfort and encourage the person(s) who hurt me.  I free them from the responsibility of the pain they caused me (Job 42:10).

Phase 10—I forget the pain (not necessarily the event) the person(s) caused me.

The example from the Bible that comes to mind is Job.  Job was so angry at his three friends for accusing him of sinning against God.  Job worked through the phases of his anger throughout the forty-plus chapters of Job.  In Job 42:10, Job prayed for his “friends” and released them from their responsibility of hurting him and then the Lord made Job prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

One of the biggest mistakes we make in the area of forgiveness is thinking we can go straight to phase 10.  This is the reason so many people are still living with the pain of the past–they don’t want to work through it, they just want to forget it.  That’s just not possible!

If you allow the Holy Spirit to walk you through each phase of forgiveness you will be truly free from the pain and sincerely want the best for those who’ve hurt you.

What a mighty God we serve!  Only through Him can we forgive and comfort!

Heavenly Father, I pray for my friends who are struggling with unforgiveness today.  Holy Spirit help them walk through each phase of forgiveness until they are truly free from the pain of the past.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

5 Responses to “The Phases of Forgiveness—2 Corinthians 2:5-8”

  1. Marie November 29, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Reading this was one of those pivotal times in my life and very much needed. I was struggling with forgiving someone. The guilt of not being able to instantaneously forgive! How non Christian, right. But oh how human. It was such a relief to read this blog. Dianne thank you so much for you faithfulness to the word and sharing you gift! Such a great teacher.

  2. Renee Meyers November 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    I can reflect on each of these phases and know that I have been in each spot at some point. Thank you for the reminder that forgiveness does not happen instantaneously when the hurt is deep.

  3. Dianne Guthmuller November 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Renee, your’e so right, deep hurts take time to heal. In today’s “instant” culture, we want it happen instantly but if it did we would miss all the lessons.

    Thanks for your comment!

  4. Dianne Guthmuller November 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Marie, thanks so much for your encouraging words. We serve an amazing God!

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