The Misery of Unforgiveness

A well-groomed man of nearly 60 sought me out after I had spoken at a banquet and said to me, “I’ve got a story you must hear.” I sat with him and heard an amazing testimonial to God’s grace. Here is his story:

“Three years ago I was bedridden. I had a half-dozen things wrong with my body. I just lay in my room, disgusted with God that He should allow such misery to come to one who had served Him as I had. My only consolation was the radio. One day your counseling program came on. You spoke about the importance of forgiving those who had wronged us. You quoted Matthew 6:15, ‘But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ ‘Of course,’ I said to myself, ‘he’s no doubt young and healthy and has everything going for him. Nothing ever happened to him like it has to me. It’s easy for him to forgive.’ The following week, I was determined not to listen to you, but I did. You said that unforgiveness can cause misery for the one who refuses to forgive. You quoted from James 3:14 and 16, ‘But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not … for where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work.’ I yelled at my wife to turn that radio off. In the silence that followed, those words continued to resound in my soul. I have never experienced such anguish. When it came time for your program the next week, somehow I couldn’t keep the radio off. That time your Scripture was Isaiah 32:17, ‘And the work of righteousness will be peace; and the effect of righteousness will be quietness and assurance forever.’ I was a wretched man, but a thoughtful one, when you finished speaking that day. ‘What he says is from the Lord,’ I told myself. ‘The strife and confusion that he spoke about certainly describes me – and I have no peace or quietness, so where is my righteousness?’

I have a son and daughter, both married. Their two families entered business together, but by dishonest means one family wrestled the business from the other. Bitterness flared in my heart toward the guilty pair. I said I could never forgive the evil deeds that brought so much turmoil to my home. But there on my sickbed after the third broadcast, I began to see that by refusing to forgive, I was hurting only myself. I cried out to God to forgive me. In my heart, I forgave my children. I committed the whole matter to God. Eventually, the wrong was made right, but it wasn’t this happy development that brought me health again. My crippling ailments disappeared when my bitterness was taken away. That is what forgiveness did in my life.”

The names and certain details in this true case history have been changed to protect each person’s identity and privacy.