“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

How many times have you heard these words from Jesus, and felt completely helpless? We all have someone in our lives that we simply can’t love or forgive—someone who has hurt us so deeply that we have resigned ourselves to bearing the wound for the rest of our lives.

It is precisely these memories, these fears, even these resentments that the Lord wants to heal. He knows that we will never find the strength to deal with them on our own. He also knows that there are some situations where it would not be wise to try to reconcile—but even in these, he can help us forgive from a safe distance so that we can move on in freedom.

How does Jesus heal us? Not by magically taking everything away in an instant. He does it as we invite him into our wounded memories. If you find yourself struggling with a painful memory, take some time to sit quietly with the Lord. Tell him that you want to be healed. In your heart, picture Jesus sitting with you and with the person who hurt you. See how he loves you, and how he loves that other person. Let his love wash you clean and heal your pain. Sometimes we have to do this a few times, and we may need to ask a trusted friend to pray with us. But healing does come.

Yes, Jesus does want us to love our enemies. He even commands it. But he is not leaving us to figure out how to do this all by ourselves. He is with us every step of the way, offer­ing us his healing and his comfort. He knows how far each of us has to go in this journey, and he is ready to accompany us. He is not put off by our pain—not even by our hatred. All he wants is an open heart and an invitation. He wants to set us free.

“Jesus, I welcome you into my heart. I welcome you into my wounded memories. Come, Lord, and teach me how to love and how to forgive. You are the Great Physician, and I trust in you.”

1 Kings 21:17-29 Psalm 51:3-6,11,16