To forgive is to carry

I read this morning that the Hebrew word to forgive is literally to carry – at least it is in Exodus 32:32. This struck a deep chord with me. To forgive is indeed burdensome. When we forgive we carry the weight of an offense against us on our own shoulders. To cancel a debt is not to magically balance the books with no cost to anyone. No – to forgive a debt means to take on, to carry the cost yourself.

This is helpful imagery because it helps me to see why I find forgiveness costly and almost physically demanding. It is a visceral experience.

It is also imagery that sends me straight to the cross where the burden of my sin was borne by Jesus. Jesus who calls me to come to him in my state of burden and find rest.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Alan Jackson

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