Forgive and Forget?
Sergei said to his pastor, “It’s been 2 years since Danica cheated on me, and I still can’t get past the hurt. Some days I think I’ve moved on, but the pain is always lurking beneath the surface, ready to explode in the most unexpected moments. We can be having dinner in a restaurant, and sorrow and anger washes over me and I feel that I despise her. How can I forgive if I can’t forget?”
The pastor stated that it’s impossible to forget what Danica did, because she mattered to Sergei. “Have you ever apologized to someone,” he said, “only to learn that the person didn’t remember you or what you had done? There is nothing worse than realizing you are so inconsequential that your sin didn’t even register. So it’s a good sign that Danica’s affair bothers you.”
Sergei pressed, “But doesn’t the Bible say that forgiveness requires forgetting? Doesn’t God forget our sins?”
“If by forgetting you mean that God no longer knows what we have done, then No!” responded his pastor. “It is impossible for God not to know everything that has happened or will happen. When God says He ‘will never again remember their sins’ or that ‘He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west’ (Psalms 103:12), He means He no longer holds our sins against us. He remembers what we have done, and His forgiveness is the richer for it. Because you love Danica and her sin cuts so deep, your forgiveness won’t be a one-off event. Every time you remember what she did, you will need to release her moral debt. But as you fight for forgiveness, you will realize that you are fighting for her, and she will become more precious to you.
“Forgiveness requires that we remember and release. We can’t forgive what we forget.”
Read Psalm 103:1-22 to discover how God has forgiven us. How can we apply this to the forgiving of others?
While forgetting is an obstacle to forgiveness, is there an opposite danger in dwelling on the offense? How can you tell if remembering a sin has morphed into unhealthy brooding?