Waiting for an apology from someone who believes he or she hasn’t done anything wrong is something we will almost certainly be waiting on for a long, long, time. But you can still forgive. Forgiveness allows our hearts to heal following a situation that left us hurt by someone else. But what if that person refuses to apologize for hurting you? Can you forgive the person who betrayed you, even if he or she is not repentant?
The greatest benefit of forgiveness accrues not to the person who is forgiven but to the One who forgives, Jesus. He teaches us that we are to love our enemies, pray for them, and do good to those who have hurt us. Jesus died for every person on earth so that our sins are wiped clean and we can have an eternity with Him in heaven. But did He expect an apology from us? No, He died anyway, and still forgave us even though we never asked Him to. And instead of shouting, “I FORGIVE YOU!” He said, while hanging on the cross in agony, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34).
If Jesus would have adopted the same position as the ones He had come to save, then He would have proven to be as lost as those for whom He was dying. He prayed, Father you forgive them, and put the situation into God’s hands. We can apply this same example to our lives. If someone hurts us, we forgive them, and let God handle what comes next.
We often hear the saying, “forgive and forget.” But guess what. When Jesus died, He forgave us, but He never forgot about us. Forgive the person and communicate your feelings to the person who wronged you. Discuss your hurt and try to work WITH the person to resolve the situation and heal your heart. He or she should be willing to work with you too, understand your feelings, and be accepting of your forgiveness. He or she should also promise to work toward improving his or her behavior so you can have restoration in your relationship.
After you forgive, there is still a pain inside that may never go away. But talking through things, and communicating with the person who hurt you, will bring you closure and peace.