Reformed theologian and DesiringGod.org founder John Piper recently gave three points of advice for a person who struggled to forgive their parents for childhood abuse.
In an episode of the podcast “Ask Pastor John” posted Wednesday, an unnamed listener emailed Piper asking how to forgive his parents.
“I’ve been a Christian for seventeen years but struggle with forgiveness of my parents for my abusive childhood. I know that the Lord teaches forgiveness, as does the Bible in many passages. I’m able to forgive others injustices and wrongs, but I really struggle with memories of my childhood,” wrote the listener.
“Please help me to understand how I can get peace over this matter and try to forgive them, a forgiveness that lasts for all time, not just until another memory surfaces.”
Piper responded by giving three suggestions regarding the issue of forgiveness, starting with pointing out that “being able and willing to forgive grows out from the root of being forgiven.”
“… when I feel most guilty at the horror of my own sin against God and against Jesus, and when I feel most amazed at my own forgiveness, and most stunned at the magnitude of what it cost in Jesus’ suffering, I am least likely to be angry at those moments with those who have wronged me,” said Piper.
“My suggestion is to linger long and deep over the cost, the hope, the preciousness, and the amazing wonder of being forgiven at the cost of Christ’s life.”
Piper then suggested that whenever one feels wronged and demands justice, that they “roll that over onto the judge who judges justly.”
“You don’t have to bear the awful weight of being the judge and the avenger yourself. You can trust that justice will be done,” he continued.
“Punishment will happen in Hell, or will have happened on the cross. Sinners will bear it, or Christ will bear it. You cannot improve upon the justice of God in Christ’s crucifixion or in Hell.”
For his final suggestion, Piper argued that “an unforgiving spirit hurts you more than anyone,” adding that “it does a lot of harm to you and not to others.”
Last year, popular Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer opened up about how her father abused her as a child and how she was able to forgive him.
“My dad sexually abused me for many years. My mother knew what was happening, she just was a very fearful woman who didn't know [how] to deal with him, and so just let it happen,” she recounted in a sermon last August.
“Later on, many years later, after I thought I had totally forgiven [them], God put it in my heart that I needed to buy them a better house to live in, and take really good care of them until they died.”
Meyer explained that while that was the "last thing" she wanted to do, she eventually concluded that "God wants us to be good to people who haven't done anything for us."
She labeled an obsession with revenge "poison,” and then explained that after three years of taking care of her parents, her father became a born again Christian.
“When somebody has hurt us, one of the hardest things in the world is to wait and let God bring our vindication,” continued Meyer.
“One of the main reasons people don't walk in love is because love is an effort. Real love is going to cause some time, some effort, some pride — you're going to have to be willing to swallow your pride.”