"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of God."
Martin B. Copenhaver
C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian authors in the last century, recounted his continual attempts to forgive someone who had been cruel to him. He prayed for the man, at first for no other reason than because Jesus told him to. But then, he writes to a friend:
Last week, while at prayer, I suddenly discovered - or felt as if I did - that I had really forgiven someone I have been trying to forgive for over thirty years. Trying and praying that I might. When the thing actually happened-sudden as the longed - for cessation of one's neighbor's radio - my feeling was, "But it's so easy. Why didn't you do it ages ago?" So many things are done easily the moment you can do them at all. But till then, simply impossible, like learning to swim. There are months during which no efforts will keep you up; then comes the day and hour and minute after which, and ever after, it becomes impossible to sink.
Lewis then makes it clear that his ability to forgive was quite unlike learning to swim in this respect: it was not of his own doing. He reflected, "a discord has been resolved and it is certainly the great Resolver who has done it."
Earlier this month there was a remarkable story about the power of forgiveness in The New York Times Magazine. I commend it to you. Click here to read it. In fact, my prayer today is that you will read it.