Pastor Rick Warren: You Can Forgive, But It's Impossible to Forget

Pastor Rick Warren.
Pastor Rick Warren. | (Photo: Exponential)

Although the Bible encourages Christians to forgive, it does not necessarily mean they need to forget the wrongdoings against them, Pastor Rick Warren writes.

Warren, who is the founding and lead pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, writes in an April 25 blog postthat while the phrase "forgive and forget" is popular, it is "impossible" to fully forget when someone has wronged you.

It is unfeasible, Warren explains, because "when you're trying to forget, you are actually focusing on the very thing you want to forget."

In fact, the preacher suggests that God does not want you to forget what happened.

"Instead, [God] wants you to trust him and see how he can bring good out of it. That's more important than forgetting, because then you can thank God for the good that he brought out of it. You can't thank God for things you forget," the megachurch pastor explains.

Warren cites Romans 8:28, explaining that the verse shows that God will "work for the good of those who love him."

"[…] God says he will work good out of the bad things in life if you will trust him," Warren says, explaining that when you come to God with your grievances, he will "return peace for your pieces."

"He gives you peace in your heart that comes from knowing that even if you don't understand the hurt in your life, you can still forgive, knowing that God will use that pain for good," he adds.

Ultimately, Christians do not need to forget the bad things that have happened in their life. Rather, they just need to forgive and let God take care of the rest.

"You just have to forgive and then see how He will bring good out of it," the California pastor explains.

Warren has spoken on the topic of forgiving and forgetting before, especially after his 27-year-old son, Matthew, committed suicide in 2013 after suffering years of depression.

The evangelical pastor and his wife, Kay, explained to CNN's Piers Morgan in 2013 that they struggled with forgiving the man who illegally sold the gun used by Matthew to commit suicide.

Warren said that forgiving this person was one of the hardest things he had to do in the wake of Matthew's death "because I didn't want to forgive him."

"I forgive, first, because I've been forgiven by God. Second, unforgiveness makes me miserable. And third, I'm going to need more forgiveness in the future," Warren explained about his thought process.

Kay said that she chose forgiveness, even though the gun dealer "preyed on a desperate person," because "I don't want to be tied emotionally to that person for the rest of my life."

The Warrens also told Morgan that they were aware of Matthew's illegal gun purchase, but did not call the police because their son threatened to take his life if they did.

When Morgan asked if they regretted this decision, Kay replied that her son "was determined" to end his life.

 "Sitting here in this moment, it's very clinical. It's very — we can second guess all over the place. But in that moment when you have a mentally ill person who's telling you they're going to take their life, and it's your son and you don't want him to take his life, the choices — mental illness creates such horrendous choices for families," Kay said.

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