I’ve never been a very forgiving person. I love it when people forgive me when I hurt them, mess up, and drop the ball. But I have a hard time when people mess up, hurt, and drop the ball with me.
I went through a tough season where I was dealing with a lot of hurt. As a pastor I know I’m supposed to forgive others like I want God to forgive me. It’s smart and sounds really nice. But I just couldn’t do it.
I got some advice from a good friend who suggested I pray for the people who hurt me. Not the kind of prayer where I hope God hurts them like they hurt me. But the kind of prayer where I ask God to bless them (not the bad things they were doing, but the good things).
The advice sounded like the right thing to do but I was too bitter to take it seriously. Later that day I came across this quote from a book I happened to be reading during that time:
Job’s life was restored after he prayed for his friends, not before. Job’s life was not restored until he prayed for his friends. “He who can pray for another cannot entertain enmity against him.”
At that moment I realized God was trying to tell me something.
So each day, whenever I started to feel angry and hurt by they had hurt me, I took a few seconds to pray for God’s blessing on them. I prayed for their spouse and their kids (if they had any). I prayed for their work and their health. I even prayed silly stuff that they would find something that made them laugh so hard they spit water out of their nose (OK, that last one was a LITTLE revenge oriented).
What I found was the more I prayed for them the less angry and hurt I felt toward them. It was like God was scraping the hurt off the windshield of my soul, one prayer at a time.
I don’t think this is the cure-all for everyone’s hurt. Some hurt is deep enough that you need more than just a prayer when it surfaces. But praying for those who hurt you, instead of praying and working against them, is a great place to start.