“I forgive you.” Just three little words, but how powerful they are! They express generosity toward those who have hurt us, and a desire to see wounded relationships healed. Forgiveness and repentance open our hearts and allow God’s love to flow freely in us.
While we all find it hard sometimes to give and receive forgiveness, it can be particularly challenging for prisoners. Anger, vengeance, guilt, and shame can rise up so quickly that prisoners often find it impossible to offer mercy and forgiveness, let alone receive it. That is, unless they know the good news that they don’t have to fight this battle on their own! Jesus wants to be at their side, ready to help them experience their heavenly Father’s forgiveness. And as God’s love and mercy soften their hearts, they will be empowered to forgive even those who have hurt them the most.
Michael, a prisoner on death row, wrote:
I have been forced to face my own mortality. I have been blessed with time to try to set things right and make my peace with God. I have been given time to ask and seek forgiveness from those whom I have hurt. I have been given time for my own hurts to be healed and to forgive those who have hurt me.
Do you know anyone who needs help forgiving others—or themselves? If so, God Forgives … Can I? can be a useful tool to give them. It was written specifically for prisoners, and has been distributed to thousands of prisoners through chaplains and volunteers. Each of the fourteen short reflections in the pamphlet makes just a few simple points. Each one contains Scripture references and each one is followed by an action step—a suggestion for putting the thought into practice—and a prayer to encourage conversation with God.
If you would like free? copies of this pamphlet, please contact me.
God Forgives… Can I?
God Forgives… Can I? (Spanish)
God bless you,
Angela M. Burrin
The Word Among Us Partners