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I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I have anger issues. I don't mean the typical melt downs and daily fits thrown because life isn't going my way, but rather those deep seated anger issues. I hold grudges, study the past of my oppressors, and mark it on my calendar to never forget certain sins people have committed against me. I have those people, or even that one person, who has wronged me in such a way that I don't want to forget it, mush less forgive their attack on my emotions, physical body, and even spiritual life. This person has damaged us so much that we can't forget, not that we don't want to forget it, but we can't. Why is that? Why is it that we can't forget what this person did to us and made us? Why can't we forget our anger at this person, our even hatred for this individual?
Why is it that we can't forget our hurt and our anger? Well, St. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians and it is the same Word for us today saying, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27). Well, we can't forget, or let go of our anger, because the devil reminds us of that past offense everyday and every night. There is sins we commit against someone, and there are sins that are done against us, let's call these passive sins. Passive sins are when people sin against us, and sometimes the devil uses the sins to keep us in our sin longer. When we actively do something wrong, the guilt and shame, after the law does its work on us, we come to repentance and desire to turn away from that sin. However, when someone sins against us, we are numbed to that person and, if we let that numbness toward them continue, we become numb to others and even to the Gospel itself. It's like going to the dentist and them shooting your mouth up with Novocaine, you don't feel anything. To attempt to forgive someone when you don't feel anything toward them, meaning no love and affection, is like trying to eat while your mouth is still numb. All you are going to do when you are numb is chew up your mouth to death. Rather than focus on the one who has wronged you, you have to look at yourself and your numbness and the only way to do that is through death and forgiveness.
Rather than focus on how you can forgive and forget how that person treated you, it is a blessed thing to look at yourself and your need for forgiveness. Pray the Lord's Prayer, pray the Psalms, pray the hymns. Go to your pastor, not for counseling, but for absolution, confess your sins to him, all of them, even the ones you think are embarrassing, and let him speak words of Absolution into your ears. Go to your pastor and lay it all out there, even your hatred toward that person. Even if you have to go back time and time again, asking for forgiveness for your inability to forget, keep going because that is the only thing that silences the devil. No amount of your decisions, or you letting go, is going to send the devil packing. Put that person out of your mind and put that hurt to death in the blood of Jesus. Focus on your guilt, your shame, your transgressions, your hurting of others, and let the pastor declare you forgiven and send you away in repentant joy. We come to confession and absolution as the Incredible Hulk, green with anger, and leave as a calm Bruce Banner, filled with the grace and mercy of Jesus. Jesus took that hurt, that damage, that abuse, and He drowned it in His blood on Calvary's Cross. May you now receive the benefits of that work and may that hurt, abuse, and damage bother you no more. However, when it does and when the devil comes again to burden you, be not far from the Words of the Gospel, and let your pastor, your friend, or even you reading the Scripture out Loud drown out the Old Adam and send the devil back to hell where he belongs.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I love you. I forgive you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.