Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren has shared a Biblical perspective regarding one of today's most commonly used phrases: "Forgive and Forget."
In a devotional shared last week, the "Purpose Driven Life" author contends that it's impossible to truly "forgive and forget," because when you're trying to forget, you are actually focusing on the very thing you are attempting to erase from memory.
"Forgetting is not what God wants you to do," he argues. "Instead, he 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 pastor quotes Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV).
"It doesn't say that all things are good, because all things are not good. Cancer is not good. Disease is not good. Death is not good. Divorce is not good. War is not good. Rape and abuse are not good. There are a lot of things in life that are evil. Not everything that happens in this world is God's will."
However, God says he will work good out of the bad things in life if his followers come to him in faith and give him all the pieces of their lives, Warren writes.
"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," the pastor concludes.
"You don't have to forget the wrong thing that someone did to you. You can't do it even if you tried! God says you don't have to forget it. You just have to forgive and then see how he will bring good out of it."
The Christian Post notes that forgiveness is a subject near to Warren's heart, as he and his wife, Kay, struggled to forgive the man who illegally sold the gun used by their 27-year-old son, Matthew, to end his own life after a lengthy battle with depression.
Warren told CNN's Piers Morgan in 2013 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 his thought process.
Kay said that she chose forgiveness, even though the gun dealer "preyed on a desperate person" struggling with mental illness because "I don't want to be tied emotionally to that person for the rest of my life."
During a sermon delivered at Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, Warren shared how his son's suicide marked the "darkest moment" in both his and Kay's life.
"He came to me one day with tears in his eyes and said, 'Dad it's pretty clear the Lord isn't going to heal me.' Every day, his brain said, 'Die,'" Warren said. "Your illness is not your identity, and your chemistry is not your character."
The pastor expressed hope that someday, he will be reunited with his son in Heaven, and said that amid the pain, God gave him the promise given to David when his infant son died.
"I can't bring him back to life," Warren said of David's words in II Sam. 12:23. "He cannot come back to me, but one day I will go to him."