If You Want to Win, Give Up

Norman Wright compares forgiveness to the tug-of-war game many of us played as children. Here’s what he wrote: “As long as the parties on each end of the rope are tugging, you have a ‘war.’ But when someone lets go, the war is over. When you forgive…, you are letting go of your end of the rope…. If you have released your end, the war is over for you.” I’ve long understood forgiveness to be a “sending away,” or a “letting go,” but the words of Mr. Wright paint a helpful picture when it comes to the endeavor of forgiving others. In the game of tug-of-war, you lose when you give up and drop the rope; in the “game” of life, you win when you let go and let God heal your wounded heart.
Of course, many of us know firsthand that letting go of our end of the rope is a challenge. One of my favorite passages in the Bible, Philippians 4:6-7, actually sheds some light on this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This passage helps us deal with anxiety, of course, but I was surprised when it was pointed out to me that these words actually speak less about anxiety than they do about forgiveness and the emotions we experience when we’ve been hurt and don’t want to let go of the pain. The context for the passage is that two women in the church at Philippi (Euodia and Syntyche) who were in conflict with one another. In verse 2, Paul pleads with them to be of the same mind, which requires forgiveness.
Since forgiveness is primarily a spiritual problem, it requires a spiritual solution. In many cases, and especially in overcoming the deepest of our wounds, we may never reach a place of forgiveness were it not for a power beyond our own efforts. When we’re angry with someone who has hurt us, the best thing we can do is pray. We must connect with God, allow His thoughts to fill our minds, and ask for His peace to guard our hearts. When we let go of anxiety and give it all to God in prayer, He hears our requests and gives us the peace we need to let go of the things that have hurt us so deeply, thereby making forgiveness possible. God enables us to let go of our end of the rope and allow Him to heal us.
Troy Burns