Forgiveness and healing – Part 3
Those who have gone through a period of bitterness would testify to the fact that, there is a relationship between forgiveness and physical wellbeing as well as emotional healing. When you forgive others, you receive emotional and physical healing. You certainly would experience an inward release. Nelson Mandela had a choice to make between resentment and forgiveness. He chose the latter. In his words, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Unforgiveness imprisons us. By forgiving his apartheid captors, Mandela did not only reap good health and extended physical life; his reputation grew also.
In Psalm 103:3, the Psalmist spoke about the forgiveness of sins and healing. “Who forgives all your iniquities, and heals all your diseases.” Though not explicitly stated in this text, there seems to be a relationship between forgiveness and healing. Jesus demonstrated the relationship amongst sin, forgiveness and healing during his public ministry. In Luke 5:17-26 when Jesus was teaching, there were present Pharisees and the Scribes; acclaimed doctors of the law. The Pharisees were the most influential of the three major Jewish sects, while the doctors of the law were the experts of the Jewish law. All these had gathered “from every town of Galilee, Judaea and Jerusalem” to listen to Jesus. Luke specifically adds this phrase, “and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” This is as if to contrast the wisdom of these Jewish leaders with the anointing upon Jesus.
Then came some desperate men carrying a paralytic who they tried to bring into the presence of Jesus, apparently to gain the attention of Jesus. Unable to reach where Jesus was, they decided to remove the roof of the building to lower the man. When Jesus saw their faith, he then said to the paralytic, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” This statement was the clincher.
The teachers of the law nearby thought Jesus blasphemed by claiming to do something that only God could do. So Jesus, knowing their innermost thoughts, asked which would be easier: to heal someone or to say he forgave his sins? “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God” (Verse 22-25).
The idea was that it would be easier to say his sins were forgiven since no one could verify that kind of spiritual transformation. Jesus chose the harder thing to prove His authority. The man stood up, proving the relationship between forgiveness and healing.
Psychologists, Counselors and Therapists acknowledge that there is a correlation amongst unforgiveness, our spiritual as well as our mental health. Amanda L. Chan writes on the mental and physical benefits of forgiveness thus: “It increases your life span; it gets one out of the angry mode; it decreases your stress level; it helps you to sleep better; it helps you to forgive yourself; it helps your immune system; and it strengthens your relationship with others.”
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