DayBreaks for 6/08/17: Non-Remembrance of Things Suffered
From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:
We wrestle with various problems related to forgiveness. The willingness to forgive is the first one. Sure, we know what Scripture says about forgiveness: that we must forgive because we’ve been forgiven, that our forgiveness is to be “70 x 7” (meaning without number). Yet we hold our hurts close to our hearts, cooing over them, turning them first one way and then another to dissect the wound from every possible direction – while all the time letting the pain build and fester like a pus-filled wound. We actually nurture our hurts when we do this.
But inevitably, when you get right down to it, we all know we are supposed to forgive. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had Christians say to me, “I know I have to forgive them,” (strange how that’s always still in the future tense, isn’t it?) “but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about it!” I think they’re wrong. Seriously wrong.
I understand that as humans, God didn’t seem to give us the ability to literally block out a part of our brain and the memories it contains. (Although, I’m not sure about that – repressed memory seems to be possible, indicating that it is a capability that does exists at least to some extent in the human brain.) Scripture says that when God forgives, He forgets and will not hold those things against us any more, than He throws our sin into the deepest sea. To the Jewish mind, that meant that they literally became invisible, for in that day and age, no one could travel to the bottom of the sea to see what lay there.
Miroslav Volf, a brilliant Christian philosopher and theologian, was driven from his former home in Croatia (the former Yugoslavia) some time back after being arrested for being a Christian under the hostile regime that was there at the time. He witnessed and suffered horrible things. He is now the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He is a man who knows a lot about wrongs suffered and how to deal with them. Here’s what he wrote in his book, The End of Memory: “But that is exactly what forgiveness does! For herein lies the essence of Christian forgiveness: On account of his divinity, Christ could and did shoulder the consequences of human sin; so the penalty for wrongdoing can be detached from wrongdoers. And since on account of his humanity Christ could and did die on behalf of sinners, they, in effect, died when he died; so guilt can be detached from wrongdoers. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we make our own God’s miracle of forgiveness. Echoing God’s unfathomable graciousness, we decouple the deed from the doer, the offense from the offender. We blot out the offense so it no longer mars the offender. That is why the non-remembrance of wrongs suffered appropriately crowns forgiveness.”
He continues with this line of thinking: “When can we forget the wrongs committed against us? In a sense, forgetting is given to us as the gift of a healed relationship. It’s a gift of the new world, which God gives us. Then we can not remember. And then our experience is like a person who is sitting in a concert hall and listening to a wonderful piece of music. Even though just two hours ago she was experiencing hell at her job, she’s taken up into that music. It’s not that she tried to forget so that she could be in the music; it’s that the music took her out of the remembrance of the past. God gives us the gift of a healed self, healed relationships, and a reconstituted world, and then we can not remember.”
I pray that we will learn to let the music of the concert of God’s love and forgiveness create that new world in our hearts so that we can no longer remember that which we’ve forgiven and endured.
PRAYER: Father, cleanse our hearts from the hurts we harbor, the forgiveness we fail to extend, the pain we refuse to release. Instead, fill them with the music of Divinity on high that echoes the very forgiveness and forgetting that characterizes Your own heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>