Lewis Smedes & Forgiveness

The first time I heard of the name Lewis Smedes was after a leadership seminar organized at my previous church probably just after my form five. I asked one of the speakers who left a deep impression – Peter Chao from Eagles Communication – how did he learn how to speak with such depth and insight.

From then on I searched every Christian bookstore and bought almost all the books Lewis Smedes wrote. The landmark book according to many is Forgive and Forget – surprisingly I got my first copy at Fuller Theological Seminary bookstore, Pasadena, CA. USA. after I graduated from seminary about 6 years ago.


Smedes was able to combine down-to-earth realism with heavenly grace that’s empowering. Many of his writings set me free to appreciate God’s grace and down-to-earth Christian living. On a delicate subject like Forgiveness, he says:

“The act of forgiving, by itself, is a wonderfully simple act; but it always happens inside a storm of complex emotions. It is the hardest trick in the whole bag of personal relationships.” (p. 2, Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts we don’t deserve)

And it’s so so true … I see in my own life. And I see it in those who wrestle with inner battles and daily emotional storms when it comes to Forgiveness. It’s a word we use so lightly at times and lose the “life-changing” truth it offers us. And we linger on in hurts and pains and drift further away from the road to healing and freedom.

At times I’m frustrated because people use the word “forgiveness” when they are actually “excusing” the wrong doing. Others use the word in a way as if we can wipe out every single memory of pain – when we will never forget (unless we push it deep into our subconscious) – we can remember the wrong doing in a new light – with new eyes (cf. Smedes tells a beautiful fable on “the Magic Eyes” in his book).

Simple act — hardest trick … what a description. More and more I find clear thinking on muddled subjects like this is so necessary for true freedom to be experienced here and now. If not, we’re tagging along with baggage and pain which we could have left behind earlier than expected.

But then, the fact is emotions are powerful. More and more of us find it hard to handle our emotions, somehow emotions and feelings have taken a center stage in our lives. When our life choices are determined more by feelings and emotional comfort, I think we miss out on the clear (often common sense) wise apporach provided by truth, reason and trust in God (who definately knows better) and others (who are often more objective).

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