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The power of forgiveness

 
Posted on 1/28/2022, 1:00 AM

Forgiveness has the power to heal our physical and mental health.

An article by John Hopkins says, "Studies have found the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress." But forgiveness also has the power to heal families and communities.

I just listened to a podcast on The Unfolding that exemplifies the power of forgiveness. It's the story of how the pastor of Meadows Church, a small, mobile church plant, sought out a friendship with the man who was incarcerated for stealing and burning everything Meadows Church owned.

The pastor, Monte Gannon, said he was awaked one morning by a police officer telling him the mobile trailer that held all his church's possessions had been stolen and burned to the ground. In response, Monte said his church was about people and not possessions. He prayed what was intended for evil be turned to good and posted a video issuing an invitation to whoever committed the crime to come to his church. He said they would be welcome, and he said, "You are valuable. God has hope for you." One month later, he was informed that the man responsible, Michael Smith, had been arrested and faced 80 years for being a repeat offender. Monte felt God prodding him to go visit Michael.

When Monte visited Michael in jail and offered him forgiveness, it touched something inside Michael. Michael said he was a long-term, hard core addict and had been arrested over fifty times. He had already done prison time, and he told the Pastor he was broken and as hardened as a man could be. But something about the Pastor's love and sincere forgiveness broke through, and Michael said he found himself sharing a lifetime of pain and failure with Monte. On that first visit, Monte led Michael to make Jesus his Lord.

Michael, who had never read a Bible, began leading Bible studies in jail. The effects of that have gone viral as offenders began accepting Christ and were then transferred within the prison system. Michael's family, who had written him off years before, began attending Monte's church. Thus far, fifteen of Michael's family members have given their lives to Christ.

Countless lives, inside and outside that jail, have been radically changed because of Monte's willingness to forgive. Monte even championed Michael's defense, and now he is out, living in a sober-living community and leading Christ-centered recovery groups. The ripple effects of one act of forgiveness are still impacting their community.

When Jesus asks us to forgive, He alone knows how powerful forgiveness can be. Do yourself, your family, and your community a favor; forgive often and liberally. Forgive yourself, your family, and the guy who cut you off in traffic. See if this practice doesn't have the power to radically change your life, your health, and your relationships. If forgiveness is the superpower, I think it is, maybe you can be a superhero!

Cris Corzine-McCloskey is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Director of Caring Counseling Ministries. CCM is a not-for-profit corporation for the purpose of providing counseling from a Biblical perspective at an affordable cost to persons living in Southern Illinois. Our office is located at 11264 Route 37 Marion, IL. To make an appointment, please call (618) 997-2129.

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