Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Forgiveness and Anxiety

          When considering the field of psychology, it seems that more and more research is being produced that gives a deeper insight into how we as people operate.  Methods of research are improving at an alarming rate, giving us more reliable tests that show what improves us mentally and what actually breaks us down, often with astounding detail.  This being considered, it seems that the hot topic of today in psychology is that of the effects of forgiveness in a person's life.  Though it seems that many would agree that forgiveness is not at all a bad thing, few had actually tested to see what kind of difference it could make.  The results have been rather surprising in how much it actually helps a person find freedom from depression, stress and anger. 
            Recently in our Counseling and Theology class we read the book The Anxiety Cure, detailing the effects of anxiety and stress in one's life.  Stress and anxiety can lead to nervous breakdowns and continually drain a person's energy both emotionally and mentally, among other harmful side effects of stress.  I found it interesting in that research has shown that forgiveness, or rather a lack of forgiveness, has been tied directly to increased levels of stress in the a person's life.  Though many feel that when you forgive the offender you are doing them a service, which is every bit true, many fail to realize that when you choose to forgive someone you are freed from bondage in your life.  People have found freedom from the hurt and anger that they have been holding onto for so long.  In this, it seems that forgiveness is yet another anxiety cure people can rely on.
            When reading articles based on forgiveness, I found myself a bit surprised; not in the results, but people's reactions to the results.  Forgiveness is something constantly outlined throughout the Bible.  We are given so so many examples of people in Scripture that have had horrible things done to them, yet they respond in a way that astounds both the people in the story and the reader today.  The story of Joseph and his brothers immediately comes to mind.   The Bible has shown us long ago that forgiveness is both needed and beneficial in a person's life, research today is merely backing up what the Bible has already shown us to be true.  Forgiveness is not at all easy at times, in fact it can be extremely difficult.  However we must realize that when we choose to not forgive, we are in fact locking ourselves in bondage, constantly held in the moment where we were hurt the most.  I encourage whoever reads this to look for yourselves at how beneficial forgiveness can be in your life, however I recommend all the more that we find it in our hearts to forgive those who have trespassed against us.  


  1. This is so powerful. It is also convicting. Thank you for sharing it. I can preach forgiveness, but can I forgive? I pray that God helps me to forgive. He does help me to forgive.
    This reminds me of the story of Corrie Ten Boom. During WWII her and her family hid Jews in their home. As a result many of her family members were sent to prison, and Corrie and her sister were finally sent to Ravensbrook concentration camp. Her sister died there, but before she died God gave her a vision of Corrie's future ministry. Corrie is miraculously released and God lead her to fulfill the vision He gave to her sister. However, part of the fulfillment of this vision had Corrie forgiving. At a church meeting she spoke at in Germany after the war a man came up to her. He was a former guard from the concentration camp. He told her had received Christ and then asked her for forgiveness for what he had done to her and her family. Corrie said she was frozen with anger and hatred. She immediately stopped and prayed. She told God she could not forgive this man on her own and needed His help. God worked a miracle in her, He gave her the ability to forgive this man that night. To look him in the eye and say truthfully, "I forgive you." I love this story because of what it means. We are not called to forgive alone, we are asked to submit to God, resist the devil, and the temptation of unforgiveness will flee from us (James 4:7). This is my hope, I can forgive with Christ power in me. Without it I am stuck. Thank you Lord Jesus! "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV

  2. Jordan great post, thank you for sharing. Along with forgiveness of others, it is important to remember another element of forgiveness, of the self. As Christian counselors, we often find it easier to focus on others and/or God, but tend to neglect ourselves. We can recite verses and understand the importance of forgiving others because Christ first forgave us, but often we beat ourselves up over our past sins and bad decisions. As result, we can become a prisoner of our past. In order to truly heal and move on from our past, we need to be at peace with forgiving ourselves. In doing so, we become free and are able to incorporate our past pitfalls to show God's glory in our lives and what he brought us from. I find that when I remember who I am in my identity as Christ's daughter, I am able to change my perspective and love myself. If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is able to forgive me, I can certainly come to terms with myself and forgive myself. In the Bible, we see that Peter was able to confess his sin, ask God for forgiveness and then forgive himself, all of which he used for God's glory. In contrast, Judas was unable to move past his betrayal of Christ and was unable to forgive himself, thus, he became a prisoner of himself and felt as if he had no escape except for death. It is important to remember that self forgiveness is a process and we must continue to seek God and ask him to work on our hearts. Phil. 1:6 says “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns".

  3. This is so true. Forgiveness brings so much healing and frees people to actually love! It is so difficult to love without the example of Christ and understanding of the redemption story. We are responsible to forgive and leave God to jude and be just. Forgiveness could take away more anxiety than people know. This is such an important reminder and such a need for every person in this world to have to continually learn from and practice. Thanks

    1. That video was really something. It really captured the son's acknowledgement of his anger, hurt, effects of neglect, and also his forgiveness of the father. You can see the release of emotion as the video progressed from the father's solemn face to one that is broken over the son's expression of hurt.
      Part of the road to healing is being able to forive the other who has wronged you even if they never request it. One must come to that conclusion of forgiving, or releasing, the other from that burden. Just as Christ forgives us, so we should do the same. We are not without that we can withhold forgiveness from anyone. We should lavishly forgive others as God does with us. You are right that it is painful, but it is so rewarding to humble yourself and do this incredible act for yourself.
      Thank you so much for posting this. This was refreshing and needed.

  4. I'll admit I was a little confused by the video at first, but it definitely was impactful. I appreciate your insight into forgiveness. Through my own studies on this topic I have definitely learned a lot. Mostly I have been surprised at what forgiveness is not. People often confuse forgiveness for forgetting, but forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Also people think once you forgive both parties have to move on, but the process of forgiveness can sometimes take a while. These are just a few of the thoughts that your post provoked in my mind. I thought the quote at the end of the video brought it all together.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.