When we’re in the clutches of a painful personal injury, our desire to forgive is typically feeble. What we want is justice. An apology. To erase what’s happened and go back to the way things used to be. We want compensation for what we have lost. Sometimes we want pure, cold revenge.
What we want, however, isn’t always what we need. Jesus talked about forgiveness repeatedly because he knew that, although it does not come easily or naturally, forgiveness is nevertheless the remedy for our brokenness. When acts of cruelty or betrayal expose our vulnerabilities, instead of turning to God for help and healing, we often throw up a defensive wall of unforgiveness. Then we hide behind it, trying to recapture our sense of power and restore our belief that the world is safe and fair, a place where the wicked are punished and the innocent are vindicated. But instead of protecting us, our refusal to forgive works against us—it traps us in our anger and pain; it hardens our hearts against the love we need; it keeps us from working through the grief of our loss and moving on. Worst of all, it hurts our fellowship with God and muffles the voice of his Spirit in our lives.
Jesus knew the suffering of injustice, cruelty, and personal betrayal. Nevertheless, he not only taught us but showed us forgiveness by dying on the cross for the sake of God’s love for us. We who call him Lord can truly follow him only if we are willing to explore his teachings about forgiveness: what it means, how to practice it, and how God can use it to bind our wounds and restore wholeness to our lives and our relationships.
“Adopting the health fitness ‘workout’ metaphor, Judith Ingram guides us on a five-week interactive daily exercise program of spiritual fitness focused upon incorporating forgiveness into our spiritual lives as a consistent, ongoing practice.”
—Dr. M. James Sawyer, Th.M., Director of Sacred Saga Ministries, professor, author of The Survivor’s Guide to Theology, co-author of Reinventing Jesus, with J. Ed Komoszewski and Daniel B. Wallace, and co-editor of Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit?
“Forgiveness is a key building block to spiritual and mental health. Judith presents a practical, day-by-day, step-by-step program to make forgiveness a lifestyle.”
—Dr. James Osterhaus, psychologist, consultant, author, professor
“I have never read such a thorough inspection of forgiveness that guides the reader to prayerfully inspect wounded relationships and to continually grow in spiritual fitness for power to overcome.”
—Dr. Scott Farmer, Senior Pastor, Community Presbyterian Church, Danville, California
“I appreciated Judy’s practical approach in seeing forgiveness as a daily spiritual exercise that keeps us fit in our relationship with God and with those persons God has placed around us.”
—Rev. Daniel R. Siems, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Galesburg, Illinois