I was having lunch at my desk one day, and happened to pull up the Insight
for Living Ministries Web site to read the daily devotional. That day, the
devotional was Cynthia Swindoll's testimony, called "My Story." The
devotional, I found out, was adapted from a message Chuck Swindoll preached
on Matthew 18, titled "Looking Back: Finding Healing through Forgiveness."
I went home that night and listened to the message over the Internet. What
happened as a result changed my life.
Many years earlier, the Lord had brought into my life a handsome,
intelligent man who loved the Lord with great passion. We got married and
were blessed with three children. Alan became a Sunday school teacher and a
deacon, and I worked with children and led the women's ministry at our
But our lives abruptly changed when Alan was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Our peaceful home life turned into a nightmare as his health eroded. My
gentle, loving husband grew dark, angry, and violent. Relatives and friends
walked away, not knowing how to handle his outbursts. Four years later,
Alan had a stroke. He developed symptoms similar to those caused by
Alzheimer's disease and was moved to a nursing home. He no longer
recognized our family.
I fell apart emotionally. My anger toward God deepened as I questioned His
purpose in allowing such a tragedy when we had loved and served Him so
faithfully. And I felt resentful toward all those who had deserted us
during our time of need.
After I listened to "Finding Healing through Forgiveness," I realized my
bitterness was poisoning my relationships with God, my family, and those
closest to me. I knew what I needed to do.
I checked into a hotel, and for eight straight hours I worked to create a
legal-sized, single-spaced list of places in my life that needed the Lord's
grace. Then I listed people I needed to forgive. Making that list revealed
just how angry I had become toward some of my friends and even a few
The Lord was so gracious. As I poured my heart to Him, His love filled me
and I was able to forgive every person on my list. The bitterness left. I
felt so free.
I approached those relatives and friends to ask for forgiveness. I don't
have words to describe the peace I felt.
Alan died in 2006. We miss him every day, but we are at peace in the
knowledge that he is in heaven.
Two of my three children walk closely with the Lord. The third is slowly
working his way back. For some, finding genuine healing is a longer
process. But I know God is at work. I have three grandchildren who are a
joy and a blessing.
I believe with all my heart that a large part of the reason my family and I
have found healing goes back to the day when I chose to forgive. Inspired
by reading Cynthia's story, my ability to forgive opened the door for me to
learn the healing that comes through forgiveness. The anger and bitterness
that I held deep inside had the potential to root itself in my children.
But God in His infinite mercy intervened; He taught me that forgiveness was
His key to healing hearts. And He brought healing to me and to my children.
My family and I are truly blessed.
Two Principles to Healing through Forgiveness
Everyone has been hurt by someone. The offense may be a personal hurt,
abuse, the pain of a fractured relationship.
Forgiveness is a required course in the curriculum of the Christian life.
If you have ever gone through the process of seeking forgiveness from
another person or—sometimes even more difficult—giving forgiveness to one
who asks, you know how tough it can be. Yet there is nothing—nothing—more healing than a forgiving spirit. Here are two
principles to guide us toward healing through forgiveness.
It is hypocritical
to refuse to forgive anyone. "Be kind to each another, tenderhearted," the apostle Paul wrote
(look closely now at the next phrase), "forgiving one another, just as
God through Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). God says we
should extend to others the forgiveness we received.
God is honored by immediate obedience. "Don't brag about tomorrow," Proverbs warns us, "since you don't know
what the day will bring" (Proverbs 27:1). Don't wait. As far as it
depends on you, reconcile. Today.
We all have someone we need to forgive. Like Karen, make healing through
forgiveness part of your story.