Editor’s note: Development Associate Sam Hardwick reflects on the example of sacrifice that Jesus provides for us on the cross and how it leads to forgiveness.

It’s really hard to forgive.

When someone has wronged you in some way, or has led you astray, or caused you grief, or done any number of things that cause us to be upset or angry, it just seems so hard to say “I forgive you.”

Sometimes, what makes it hard is that the other person doesn’t seem that remorseful. They just seem to be saying sorry to appease you rather than saying sorry because they genuinely feel that way. What makes forgiveness hard is that the hurt you feel can’t be made better by a few words of sorrow. Becoming the victim and acting justified in being upset and angry seems like the right way of feeling.

It’s really hard to forgive.

I have struggled with forgiveness. Even in instances when someone knew they upset me and said they were sorry. Even when I said it was okay.  Still, deep down, I knew I still had not forgiven them.  God calls us to forgive our enemies and those who have wronged us. I know that He is calling me to forgive, but I also know that God understands how hard forgiveness can be. He knows, because in order for our sins to be forgiven, He had to be crucified.

So how can Jesus’ example of dying on a cross help us in our everyday life? By realizing that in order to forgive and to be forgiven, we must sacrifice. If you have been wronged, it means sacrificing the feeling of resentment or righteousness. If you have wronged someone, it means sacrificing your pride and asking for forgiveness. It means letting go of your grudges for the sake of forgiveness. By sacrificing in this way, our lives can be renewed with love and hope just as the world was renewed on Easter through the Resurrection of Jesus. It is important to realize that the greatest act Jesus did on earth was to die for us so as to forgive our sins. If sacrificing himself for forgiveness was that important to God, forgiving—both others and ourselves–and asking for forgiveness must be the most important things we do in our own lives, too. So, my sacrifice will be to let go of my hurt feelings, to let go of my own guilt in not forgiving, and move forward with hope and love for the people who I have forgiven.

It’s really hard to forgive but I can do it.

Reflection Questions: Is there someone you need to forgive in your life? Why is forgiveness important to you? Why are we called to reconciliation? How can forgiveness prepare you for the Advent season?