"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Louis B. Smedes

What can set a soul free?
Change a life?
Heal a mind?
Melt a hard heart?
Satisfy a spirit?

Did you answer love? That would be right, but there's another answer.


Before I go on, let us have a quick look at what forgiveness is.

To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. The original and proper phrase is to forgive the offense, to send it away, to reject it, that is, not to impute it, [put it to] the offender.-Webster's 1828
Also, I like the way these people put it:

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ― Mark Twain 

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. 

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ― Corrie ten Boom 

Now I shall tell you a story.

A little while ago, in a land not-so-far-away, there was a little girl. Her father was a wicked man. He did many things that were wrong- things that hurt the heart of his wife and daughter, and others around him. This made him angry and resentful of anything that was innocent, including his wife and little girl.

One day, because he was such a bad man, he left his wife and little girl to go do whatever he wanted to. Her mama was hurt and betrayed, yet believed it to be for the better. It was hard, but they were happy together, for her Mama loved God, and didn't let the hard, ugly things penetrate her heart, causing it to become hard and ugly. Instead, she forgave.

 But the little girl didn't. She kept remembering the mean things her father had said. They way he acted when he was angry. They way he drank all the time. And while these things had hurt her, by remembering them, the little girl let them grow bigger, uglier, darker and stronger. It was like a weed now, with its roots in a knot around her heart. She became an ugly, dark person. Nothing made her happy, nothing gave her peace. Even those blessing that should have brought her joy, contrasted blatantly with the blackness of herself, that she inwardly recoiled from them and the people that could most help her.

Many good things were happening to the little girl. Her mama married a man who loved her, and her little girl, very much. He began to fight for the right to be the little girl's father. Like a knight in shining armor, he rescued the little girl from a knight of darkness. He showed her what a father's love really was. Also, God gave the little girl sisters and brothers. And each one meant the world to her. In the end, her new father adopted her, and they never heard from the wicked man again.

In spite of all these blessings, the girl insisted on nursing her wounds with bitter poison. She came to hate herself, her life and especially her father. She would lay awake at night and think of ways to hurt him physically, mentally and emotionally. She desperately wanted him to feel the pain she felt. She never noticed the evil that had taken hold on her. She didn't realize what she was doing to herself. Like a child playing peek-a-boo, she believed that if she couldn't see the evil, it must not be there. By the time she was a young lady, her heart was almost completely made of stone. If nothing could touch her, nothing could hurt her. But nothing could help, either.

Then one day this girl had a wake-up call. What good was it hate and ruin your life over someone who you would, in all likelihood, never see again? Who was actually at the root of all the pain? She was shocked to realize that there was only one person who let the anguish go on this long. Herself. The girl went on her knees and begged God to help her forgive. To rip out the vine of bitterness that had so long entangled her heart. She didn't know how to go about forgiving, and when she asked, a still, small voice whispered: "pray for him". And so she did. It wasn't easy to ask God to save the man she had spent 11 years hating with every fiber of her being. When she did, though, she felt the hand of God comforting her, pouring oil into her wounds. Gently and kindly healing her. Nothing would be the same. Joy flowed from every corner. A new light shone through. While the girl would struggle with bitterness again, never would it dominate her like it had. She had a new way to channel the pain-into the hands of a loving Father.

The real beauty of this story is that it is 100% true. It is my story; I don't believe I've ever told it before. It has been healing to put it down, and I hope it encourages you to forgive. Because forgiveness does set souls free, change lives, heal minds, melt hearts and satisfy the spirit. Your soul/life/mind/heart/spirit. Though I never see that man again, I can move on because of forgiveness. Don't underestimate its power.



Today's "enlightened" society likes the idea of the Christian's moral teachings without the Christian's God (Creator of the morals) and one moral particularly emphasized is Hope.

It's not always called hope. Some modern synonyms of hope would be dream, wish or believe. And this is true to an extent. Here are the closest definitions to "contemporary hope":

"Desire; sometimes, eager desire." 
"A vain fancy; a wild conceit..."
 "An emotion or excitement of the mind, directed to the attainment or possession of an object from which pleasure, sensual, intellectual or spiritual, is expected; a passion excited by the love of an object, or uneasiness at the want of it, and directed to its attainment or possession."

And these are the Webster's 1828 dictionary definitions, not for hope, but for "wish", "dream" and "desire", consecutively. So what is hope, exactly? Glad you asked! Again to quote Webster's 1828:

1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God's gracious promises; a scriptural sense.

These two definitions clearly lay out hope as being far stronger than any mere wish, flippant dream or lustful desire. These are based on facts and God's promises, not just our own wildly variable emotions.

4. "An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence. "

 His hope is a strong, beautiful thing, and almost it is a non-existent thing. By which I mean it cannot be proven. It has no evidence of existance, no tangible reality, and yet cannot be denied of its authenticity, its very presence. We have all hoped. Even if we now are hopeless, at one point hope was real to us. And if I just completely confused you, it's okay. I don't think I fully get it myself. Think of it this way: Hope is a bridge of thought and conviction connecting desire to reality. It is a real thing, but is never alone; a bridge cannot exist without two ends with which to attach.

courtesy of Google Images

The end on which you begin is labeled "Wish/Dream" which is connected to the other end, "Reality".
The bridge itself is "Hope" crossing the great chasm of "Unbelief/Doubt" and the actual steps used to cross this bridge are "Faith". There are protective railings to keep us on the right path. They are entitled "God's Will". 

We cross millions of these bridges in life. When we are very young our parents and mentors take us gently by the hand and guide us across. As we age we are encouraged to try them with someone leading, then on our own. Sometimes, people will follow us across and sometimes it is for us to follow. And even a few bridges will be us resisting and being pushed across by a loving authority. 

But always there will be bridges. Hope will always be there. If we dive over the edge, it is our own fault, so blame no one else. However, our loving Father will never condemn us for jumping. He lets us fall, it is true, but only so we learn that to jump will hurt us. And then when we hit bottom and cry for help, He is there. With a broken heart, He lifts us out of the void, mends our wounds, and gently leads us up the slope and back onto the path.

I've gotten a bit off-topic (again) but it needed to be said.

We find hope all throughout Scripture. This verse continues my strange theme above, about hope "not existing": once you have what you hope for, how can your hope now exist?

For we are saved by hope: 
but hope that is seen is not hope:
 for what a man seeth,
 why doth he yet hope for?
-Romans 8:24

Here we see hope connected to Love.

And hope maketh not ashamed; 
because the love of God is shed abroad 
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
-Romans 5:5

Also to Strength and Courage:

Be of good courage, 
and he shall strengthen your heart, 
all ye that hope in the Lord.
-Psalm 31:24

And now, Lord, 
what wait I for? 
my hope is in thee.
-Psalm 39:7

And to Mercy:

Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, 
according as we hope in thee.
-Psalm 33:22

As well as to Trust:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord
and whose hope the Lord is.
-Jeremiah 17:17

Hope brings peace and comfort in grief. In these verses, hope is connected with mercy, compassion, help in trouble, faithfulness  God's goodness and patience. (The "salvation" spoken of in vs.26, is not of the soul, but of being physically removed from troubles.)

 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, 
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: 
great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; 
therefore will I hope in him.
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, 
to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope 
and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
-Lamentations 3:21-26

And lastly, remember that our hope should be placed only in the Lord. Nothing and no-one can satisfy as He can, fully and forever.

For in thee
do I hope: 
thou wilt hear, 
O Lord my God.
-Psalm 38:15