Today’s devotional: When it’s too late to tell someone “I’m sorry”

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” I recite that line as part of the Lord’s Prayer most Sunday mornings at church, and yet no matter how familiar it is, that phrase always stings a little. It reminds me that God expects us to forgive others just as he has freely forgiven us. But it’s safe to say that for most of us, our track record when it comes to extending grace and forgiveness to people who have wronged us is decidedly mixed.

But here’s a new wrinkle to consider: what if it’s too late to extend forgiveness, because the person who hurt us is dead or gone? What if we hurt somebody who is no longer around to hear our apology or our plea for forgiveness?

Charles Swindoll addresses this question today in Day by Day:

I suggest you share your burden of guilt with someone whom you can trustyour spouse, a counselor, your pastor. Be specific and completely candid. Pray with that person and confess openly the wrong and the guilt of your soul. In such cases prayer and the presence of an understanding, affirming individual will provide the relief you need so desperately.

After David had indirectly murdered Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, his guilt was enormous. Adultery and hypocrisy on top of murder just about did him in. Finally, when he was caving in, he broke his silence and sought God’s forgiveness but Uriah was not there to hear his confession. He had been dead almost a year. The broken king called on the prophet Nathan and poured out his soul, “I have sinned….” Nathan followed quickly with these words: “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.”

Death or geographical distance can disrupt the critical act of reconciliation between two people. But God’s grace is greater yet. If your conscience burns over an apology never offered or forgiveness never extended, it’s not too late to bring it to God and find peace.

2 Responses to “Today’s devotional: When it’s too late to tell someone “I’m sorry””

  • Kizzy252 says:

    Sometimes the suffering we encounter is not necessarily for us. GOD sometimes restores us and allows our sufferings to be a testament of His Greatness to encourage and lead others to Him. So, when we are going through,we dont realize initially, that what we are going through has little or nothing to do with us. We just want to be healed on this side. We want to be free of pain and the stresses that accompany that illness. But God sees all and knows all! He has a greater purpose. Our prayer needs to be that God would confirm us to HIS Will and HIS Way! Because the bottom line is, we were put here to worship, glorify and serve HIM. And He knows what is best for everyone of us. HIS grace is sufficient and HIS Will is perfect for us. Even mans’ laws must succumb to GOD’s WILL!

  • Alicia says:

    It’s interesting that David didn’t feel overcome with guilt until more than a year had passed since Uriah’s death. I think that’s a good point – God’s work in our hearts takes time and isn’t instant.

    We’ve heard the story of David and Bathsheba so many times. Out of familiarity, we can skip from David’s fall from grace to his restoration quickly because we know the point is that God forgives.

    Still, at the time this happened, it wasn’t familiar or easy because the ending wasn’t clear yet. Like David, we should know that we can’t forgive on our own. Forgiveness must be wrought in our hearts by God. In His timing God does make all things new, but it’s a work of the spirit and not the flesh.

    Part of loving God means praising Him because he does this work of forgiveness. I think getting too caught up in the how WE do reconciliation kills the joy of God’s work – a heart that really wants to praise God, it will find a way.

    Similarly, a person who is really reconciled to God and others doesn’t need to go out of their way to show it – it will flow naturally out of their conversation because they speak from their heart and their heart reveals their true character.