The Fear of Forgiving

Last week I was privileged to attend the American Association of Christian Counselors convention in Nashville and my very first pre-conference track was with Everett Worthington Jr. He is Professor of Counseling Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as an author of several books on forgiveness; and he ended up being one of my favorite classes at the convention.

Here’s where he began his lecture …
“People are hard-wired for justice, because we are created in the image of a just God.”
He went on to share about the research he’s done on the brain, finding that the pleasure center of our brains light up when we seek vengeance. He called this tendency to “even the score” as the “Injustice Gap.”
When a wrong is committed against us, we feel a “gap between what we want (justice) and what we are experiencing in reality (injustice). So we try to lessen that gap by looking for some way to get back at, or gain some kind of amends from, our offender, such as … “a little groveling, please!”
 Here are my thoughts on the “Injustice Gap” –
 I totally get this!
In fact, I love “the Gap!”
And no, I am not speaking of that famous jean joint (although I love them too!).

I just know that when someone has hurt me, the first thing I want is to do is pressure my offender into making things right with me.

Fear has crept into my heart.
But despite my penchant for “the gap,” I realize that every time I try to lessen it—either through vengeance or manipulation—the situation backfires. That’s when I feel like I’ve fallen into a “gap” or maybe more like a pit.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:1-2 (NIV)
Okay, so the cold hard facts may be that you and I will always be tempted to wrestle with the “Injustice Gap,” but the good news is – our only true hope is in God, because …
He’s the only One who can even the score or “close the gap.”
So I’m going to wait patiently on Him to make things right. And even though He may not always make my situation right or may not allow me to catch a glimpse in this lifetime of how He’s making things right with my offender, He will keep me from being swallowed up by the gap. And …
He will heal me.
He will rescue me.
He will renew my hope!
“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:2-4 (NIV)

5 responses to “The Fear of Forgiving”

  1. The gap can become a pit. Wow. I’ve been reading “Enemies of the Heart” and he relays similar information about that gap. Depending on the Lord to close the gap sometimes seems like a long wait, but it is always the right thing to do. Thanks for encouraging us to hope in Him for it.


  2. ow wow…great stuff…this is right up my alley…and he is in my backyard…will be in richmond next weekend performing so will drop in on him maybe…great NT Wright book called Evil and the Justice of God….


  3. Let me know if you really do look him up. I think that would be sooo cool! And I’ll have to check out the book you’ve suggested. Thanks!


  4. Your words encourage me! And I’m always excited to hear about new books on subjects like this one. Thanks so much, Lisa!


  5. So let’s just pray that prayer together! … Amen! Thanks for stopping by with your encouraging words!


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