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Realize That Healing Our Memories Takes Time

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
–Psalm 147:3

What should we do when memories of an offense against us don’t go away? We must realize that healing our memories takes time.

Some people say, “Time heals all wounds.” That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Time in and of itself doesn’t heal anything. Not long ago I finished doing a cable news interview, and as I was driving home, a large part of my front tooth fell out. I thought, “Man, this was God’s provision. Had it happened an hour earlier I would have looked like one of the Beverly Hillbillies on TV.” When I got home, I could have said, “Well, time heals all wounds. I’ll just let this go, and eventually my tooth will grow back.” Would that have happened? Of course not. I had to go through a very painful root canal the next day to get it fixed.

Or think about cancer. Somebody has a tumor growing on the inside, metastasizing to the rest of the body. The doctor says, “We are not going to do anything about it. After all, time heals all wounds.” No, time by itself doesn’t heal. Time only heals once the surgery or the dental procedure is done. It’s the same thing with forgiveness. Time doesn’t heal anything. In fact, time will cause bitterness to get worse until it is dealt with. But after we have gone through the surgical process called forgiveness, time can be our friend and help heal painful memories.

Corrie ten Boom was placed in a concentration camp under Nazi Germany along with her sister, Betsie. After the end of the war she still dealt with painful memories of what one of her Nazi captors had done to her and her sister. No matter how hard she tried, Corrie could not rid herself of that terrible hurt. She asked God to reveal to her why she couldn’t forget the hurt, especially since she thought she had forgiven it. Corrie later wrote, “His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks. ‘Up in that church tower,’ he said, nodding out the window, ‘is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive someone, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.’”

Those dongs that continue to reverberate in your mind over hurts long past may or may not stop completely, but their frequency and intensity will diminish over time if you let go of that offense through the process of forgiveness.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving without Forgetting” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Quote from Corrie ten Boom, “Guideposts,” November 1972,

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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