Wounds leave scars. And just looking at the scars can bring back the pain that caused them. Unexpected triggers can blindside us with an intense reliving of it.
I’d like to forget and always keep my gaze averted from my scars. But should I?
God says forgive, release to Him the “enemy” who wounded you. But forget?
Making ourselves “forget” may not be biblical or healthy at all.
Didn’t some “re-griefs” recently blindside me just because I’d put the hurts, the bone-deep scars, in forget mode? In other words, buried? Burying past hurts may be something we should be careful not to do.
Not that we dwell on negatives, or harbor grudges, or cast ourselves perpetually in the victim role, keep picking at scabs. Or keep rehashing someone else’s wrong to slander them or act as high judge or feel superior or refuse to forgive. None of that is biblical.
But I looked up “forget” in an exhaustive concordance. And nowhere did I find any Bible command or instruction to forget a hurt or offense!
The closest thing that could be (mis?)construed that way is Paul’s saying, “Forgetting what is behind…” (Phil 3:13). But there he’s talking about leaving his entire old life of legalism, hatred, and misguided zeal behind and moving forward in truth and light, ever closer to Christ. He’s aware of all he lost, but gladly trades it in for the surpassing greatness of knowing His Savior (Phil 3:4-8).
Elsewhere he pours out a long string of sufferings he endured (2 Cr 11:23-28,32-33). He hasn’t forgotten them. He remembers, and prays for his blind, misguided human enemies, desiring passionately that they would come to see the light God has revealed to him (Rom 10:1-3 NIV).
Then there’s Joseph, the Bible’s great human example of forgiveness. He didn’t forget, or pretend the wrongs done him never occurred. Effectively he made those brothers remember, themselves. And sweat. Scared them. Gave them stark awareness of how bad the just consequences of their evil actions could be. Then he granted them formal forgiveness, and reassurance.
I look up “remember” in the concordance, too, because maybe there are “do not remember” instructions?
I find none.
And though I haven’t thoroughly gone through all the references yet, so far what I find is a lot of commandments to remember!
Remember your affliction and slavery in Egypt.
Remember how you were mistreated, and remember God’s deliverance.
Remember all God’s marvelous works, and all he did for you in the past.
Remember your past errors and how wrong or foolish they were, so as not to commit them again.
Nothing has turned up (yet) that says to not-remember.
Maybe “forgiving” without remembering isn’t really forgiveness, but avoidance, avoiding dealing with the painful issues, burying them instead? Pretending they never happened?
We can’t deal with what we don’t look at. We can’t forgive what we don’t acknowledge actually happened. And without looking, acknowledging, and then forgiving, how can we obey “Love your enemies…”?
Yes. Remember and forgive.
And more about loving our enemies, next time…