Forgive and forget, that's what they always say. But based on my experience, we can forgive but we cannot truly "forget" what happened and I often wondered why this is so.
As I read Genesis 31 today, the answer dawned on me. The Lord commanded Jacob to leave Haran and head back to Canaan. Jacob secretly left his father-in-law in obedience to the Lord but to do so would mean facing his brother Esau who he did not see for 20 years. Placing myself in his shoes, I would already be thinking of a lot of things --- Lord, is my brother still angry at me? Will he still plot to kill me? Is there another way, Lord, maybe a detour where I won't meet my brother? How can I ask forgiveness, Lord, that would be very difficult. Will he forgive me?
I realized that the Lord will allow us to confront our past so that we can be right with Him. There were times that scenes from my past would suddenly play in my mind and I would often ask the Lord why He wanted to remind me of them. Today, he gave me the answer ... so that I can truly know that I have forgiven and recognize God's grace in being able to do so and in the process remember the miracle He did in me.
Dr. Ray Pritchard said that we can find that courage to forgive if we will remember that when Jesus said, "Father, forgive them,", he was talking about us. In life, we have fought many battles and in the process we got scars that would mark us forever. These scars do not hurt us anymore but they would be a reminder of the battles fought and of God's victory. I could never have the strength to forgive if it was not for Him.
Thank you Jesus!