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“‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭50‬:‭17‬-‭20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬-‭15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to pause and reflect—not only to recognize all the reasons we have to be grateful, but also to heal and grow in the year ahead.

While reflecting, we may be reminded of hurt feelings. Rather than sweep those feelings under the rug or let them create bitterness, we can choose the freedom of forgiveness. And the first step toward forgiveness is surrender.

“Surrender” can be one of those words that makes people squeamish, especially when it comes to forgiveness. We tend to equate it with losing a battle—waving a white flag and allowing the enemy to overtake us. But when we surrender to God, we can view it differently.

With God, surrender means being open handed with our lives—even our hurt and pain so that God can heal us from it. He is full of love, mercy, and compassion for each of us. We don’t have to be afraid to give our pain to God because we can trust Him to be tender, and handle our hearts with care.

We can also trust God to be fair. It’s natural for us to want to see someone pay the consequences for their actions. Even God has a righteous anger toward sin and injustice. But we have to accept that only God can judge a person’s heart. We don’t get to decide whether someone receives punishment or grace, and holding on to our need for vengeance will only leave us with bitterness.

If we want to live in peace this year, we have to give our anger and pride over to God and focus on our own hearts. We must make the conscious choice to lay our pain and desire for control at His feet and ask God to do a work in us. We have to acknowledge that we need His help.

As Christ followers, forgiveness is something we do daily—even when we don’t want to do it. Sometimes when we’re working through forgiveness, we have to surrender the same pain to God multiple times. When old feelings stir up, we forgive again and again until it no longer upsets us. With God’s grace, all things are forgivable.

Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened is ok. It doesn’t mean we let people continue to hurt us. And it doesn’t necessarily mean having a face-to-face conversation—the person doesn’t even have to still be alive for us to forgive them because it’s not about them. It’s an acknowledgement in a moment that is just between us and God. It’s about inviting Him in so He can heal our hearts.

Don’t take the offenses and hurts from last year into this next year. If there’s something you need to forgive, take a moment to pray and surrender it to God. Tell Him you need His help and that you trust Him with the results.
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