by Jefferson David Tant
A popular song is “Let It Go,” from the movie “Frozen.” The title reminds me of a Biblical principle.
As humans, we tend to want to hold on to things—possessions, relationships, anger, bitterness, ill feelings. Of course, some “possessions” are proper, but others are harmful and destructive.
In summer sometimes children fly kites. As the breeze lifts them in the air, the children are excited as their kites soar in the skies. But then the fun is over and the kites are pulled back and saved for another day.
Sadly, that’s just what happens too often with hurt feelings, anger, and bitterness, etc. Oh, we may let them loose for a time, but then we enfold them once again when the occasion is right. But we must realize that these negative feelings do more harm to us than to those who are the object of our bad feelings.
I may have some resentment toward Joe, and he may live 1,000 miles away. So I seethe and fume from day to day, and may toss and turn in bed, having trouble sleeping. Meanwhile, Joe may be going about his normal activities, unharmed by my arrows of anger. Sometimes he may be aware of my ill will, but it doesn’t change the course of his life even though he may be saddened by my attitude.
A question asked in Jeremiah 8:22: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” Job speaks of one who “dies with a bitter soul, Never even tasting anything good” (Job 21:25). Is there a cure for my mental distress? Most certainly, the Great Physician has some good balm for the illness.
Paul wisely counsels, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Paul also addresses cures for the diseased heart: “Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).
It may not be easy to change bitterness to kindness and forgiveness, for even medical remedies for physical ailments can be painful, but God helps us change. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
So, instead of kites, we can take lessons from balloon flying. At times I have witnessed the release of balloons. Children (and sometimes older folks) have gathered for a great balloon release, and they cheer as the balloons are released to fly away into the sky, sometimes carrying messages. And wouldn’t our lives be happier if we determined to release those harmful feelings that weigh us down? Sometimes it is feelings even about ourselves that need to be released.
I recall an incident when a person who had wronged another made yet another apology. The recipient of the apology responded in words like, “I distinctly remember forgetting that some years ago.” He wanted the apologizer to no longer punish himself.
Aren’t there times when we need to release our own balloons? Years ago we had a young woman living with us for a time. One day she came to me with much weeping. She had committed fornication the night before and was overcome with remorse. She asked me to pray for God to forgive her. I told her, “I can’t do that, because God won’t know what I’m talking about.” She looked puzzled, so I went on. “Haven’t you repented and asked God to forgive you?” “Yes,” she replied. I went on, “God has told us that when he forgives, he forgets (Jer. 31:34), so he won’t know what I’m talking about. Now, what you need to do is forgive yourself. In a sense, you are telling God to move aside and let you handle your own case because you what to punish yourself some more.”
And we do that sometimes, becoming depressed because of our weaknesses and failures. Even though Paul considered himself the chief of sinners, he did not continue to beat himself up, but joyfully accepted his forgiveness. “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (I Timothy 1:15-16).
In the words of the song, “Let it go, let it go, let it go.”