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  • Mary Lynn Tolar

Forgiveness in Families

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 (NIV)

"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to Him, 'They have no more wine.'

Jesus replied, 'Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.' 

His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever He tells you.'" John 2:1-5 (NIV)

"' Why were you searching for me?" He asked. 'Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?'" Luke 2:49 (NIV)

Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" Luke 23:34 (NIV)


Many passages in the Bible discuss good and poor parental behavior, parental wisdom or lack thereof, the Heavenly Father's love and discipline, and children's submission and rebellion. There are also references to bitterness, jealousy, and thoughts of entitlement and abandonment. Raising families is difficult and often a snare for unforgiveness for both parent and child.

Just considering Jesus's life events like it was our own experiences, you can see some of the highs and lows of the circumstances Mary and Jesus went through in their relationship. As a child herself, she was stunned by the angel Gabriel's announcement that she would carry the Messiah before she was even married. She faithfully submitted to the Lord's inexplicable will and trusted Joseph to accept the circumstances and provide for and protect them while he raised the child as a stepfather. 

As the mother of a 12-year-old son, missing from the crowd returning from the Passover festival in Jerusalem, panic surely arose in Mary as they searched for Jesus. When found, Jesus simply explained matter-of-factly that, of course, He would be in His Father's house. Even as a grown man, Mary pushed Jesus to resolve the depleted wine issue.  Jesus' family experienced plenty of awkward, emotional challenges.

I can recognize several opportunities for snares to freedom if one of us with this scenario would ask for help, can't you? This peacefully planned marriage was turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control – and our plans get thwarted, too, with lives turned inside out. Besides carrying these anxious thoughts to the God of all creation, sidestepping abandonment, entitlement, and blame was absolutely required for their survival! After Jesus' birth, the prophets at the synagogue even affirmed the baby's calling but warned of the emotional pain Mary would experience.

So many of our wounds remain unhealed that they become giant weights we carry around. We see things from incomplete perspectives, unaware of the spiritual and physical pressures that prompt the sins that we encounter. Our pain is so real to us that we forget that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and other Biblical families set examples to help guide us through forgiveness and freedom. Jesus, our Jehovah Rapha, has related to the wounds and overcome the pain and unforgiveness, taking it all to the cross for us. We do not have to bear the suffering and condemnation by becoming entangled. We have a choice to give grace and forgive despite the wrongdoing. We give it back to the Lord to handle in His way, in His timing, and for His purposes. The grace we give does not condone the hurtful sins. It just turns it over to Jesus to carry. We may even still have hurts that need time to diminish and we may benefit from proclaiming forgiveness each time we think of it. Over time, those fiery darts get extinguished. They were conquered at the cross. 

I have a friend who gave forgiveness and allowed Jesus to take the pain. She determined she would no longer be a victim of that hurt and torment. She meditated on the pain that Jesus suffered – abandonment, accusation, jealousy, misunderstanding, rejection, pain, and crucifixion, to name a few. She thought about how we continue to hurt Him today with our faithlessness, disobedience, cruelty, and lovelessness. As she repented, she asked Jesus who healed Him from these daily hurts. He replied that He did. He is the Healer, Jehovah Rapha.

The biggest snare we face in our daily walk is unforgiveness. It is like a prickly, irritating weed that carries stickers. If unchecked, it continues to grow until we are defeated, surly, and grieved. It steals our trust and separates us from receiving Jesus' fullness for us. Most of the time, the offending party is unaware, free of the torment, too. In The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus instructed the disciples to ask that the Father forgive our trespasses against others as we also forgive them for offenses against us. He was providing the way to freedom for us to walk in. 

Just as Jesus, while perishing on the cross, asked the Father to forgive us for our sins against Him, we need to release both captives of this sticky, tar-baby mess of wounding, resentment,  unforgiveness, and bitterness. The families we are placed in are our best resources for learning how to practice our part. One woman I know, who opened her heart to Jesus as an adult, was convicted of asking family members for forgiveness for various actions from childhood. Although some of it seemed trivial, forgiveness was granted to her – and an interesting thing started to happen. Unsaved family members came to Jesus, broken family ties were restored, addictions were broken, and spiritual callings were picked up as the family was freed, too. It was a good lesson of real love in action. Isn't that what we all want?

If you are dealing with an emotional wound or resentment or have gone deeply down the road into unforgiveness, take a deep breath and STOP! It's as simple as that. Choose to stop the madness, repent of becoming judge and jury in this trial, release the person to Jesus for His handling, receive your freedom, and bless the offender to be freed. It may feel awkward at first, but it is so rewarding to draw closer to Jesus and hand over the heavy weights. He's waiting, arms open wide to you.


PRAYER OF FORGIVENESS: Lord, I choose to forgive (name the person) for (specifically name all of his or her offenses or painful memories that come to your mind), which made me feel (share painful feelings). Lord, You forgive me, so I choose to forgive (name of person). In Jesus' name, amen.

PRAYER OF BLESSING: Lord Jesus, I choose to uproot any bitterness and resentment I have toward (name the person) and ask You to bless them – with spiritual growth, physical health, loving relationships, and the provision of every good thing needed. May they experience the same identity and freedom in Christ that I have found. In Jesus' name, I pray, amen.

To dive deeper into forgiving from the heart, please to our page here: You can get EPIC Journey, The Lord's Prayer Journey here: and walk through steps of forgiveness.


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