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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Lenten Healing: 40 Graces for Forgiveness (Day 37: Peter's Denial)

The day of Jesus’s crucifixion wouldn’t even begin before he’d be rejected. Three times. By one of his closest friends.
Faithfulness (or maybe faithlessness) hits me where I live. When someone treats me in a way I hope I would never treat them—maybe by doing something they vowed never to do—forgiveness is an uphill, rutted road over potholes and mud pits and through thunderstorms.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty good the last week or so about my relationship with forgiveness. This 40-day journey has been exactly what I hoped—convicting and convincing about God’s intentions and my duty regarding forgiveness.
Then this week someone close to me treated me kind of shabbily. I don’t know what I did to cause the rift, and my apology for offending has been received but not accepted. I’ve been cut off with little explanation and no opportunity to make amends.
Happily, I feel right about how I handled it. And even more happily, I harbor no bad feelings toward that person. Not even a smidge of “How could they do that? Who do they think they are? I’ll show them!” In that respect I feel full and inexplicable peace.
But it still hurts. And I didn’t think it would.
I thought once you forgave, everything bad went away. I expected to have some sort of Zen-like aura permeate me and carry me through my days with unbreakably transcendent joy.
Instead, whenever this situation comes to mind I feel sad. And in fact, I feel a bit betrayed, because we’re both believers, and there are biblical guidelines for how to repair relationships. But this person seems to have chosen not to employ them, and even cited “much prayer” as the precursor for severing things with me.
But you know what? Peter went as far as lying about Jesus: “I do not know the man!” Yet after the resurrection, when Peter saw the risen Christ, he received Jesus’s forgiveness and the full reinstatement of his commission as a disciple. I wouldn’t have had the grace to rehire that treacherous employee.
Peter’s denial certainly hurt Jesus when it happened. But maybe that’s what forgiveness is: a decision to continue to love the person, even through the pain they caused you.

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Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” – Luke 22:34

* * *

I didn’t really want another lesson in forgiveness, God. But you’re not a God who does anything part way, are you? So, thank you. Thank you for teaching me more than I really wanted to learn. I ask your blessing on the person who rejected me. I ask your forgiveness for any wrong part I played in it. And I pray that one day we will be restored, through your grace.

40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. $6.49 at

With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.

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