The day started out like every other day. Reginald Denny was a truck driver in the California city of Los Angeles. On that day he happened to turn a corner into a situation he didn’t expect. An out-of-control gang of enraged men stopped his truck, dragged him out, and beat him savagely. Mr. Denny was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

Now that much of the story isn’t why I’m telling you this. Sadly, that kind of thing happens every now and then in cities around the world. The reason I’m relating this story to you is what happened next. Mr. Denny’s recovery took months, but when he was better he asked to meet the men who had beaten him. He spent a few minutes face to face with them, shook hands with them, and said he forgave them. In spite of the fact they had nearly killed him, he forgave them. A reporter observing the scene wrote, “It is said that Mr. Denny is suffering from brain damage.”

That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Forgiveness is so rare—because it’s so difficult—that when it does occur, people don’t understand. “He must have brain damage,” they say. Or “He must not understand the situation.” “He must have an ulterior motive.” “He is so naïve.”

Forgiveness is an important principle talked about often in the Christian faith. Jesus Christ knew how difficult forgiveness is. In one of his prayers he said, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” But then he came back to the subject after the prayer as he said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Wouldn’t you love to know why he came back to that topic? Maybe it was in response to a comment. Perhaps it was because of a questioning or disbelieving look he saw in the eyes of the crowd when people heard the words in the prayer, “Forgive us . . . as we have forgiven.”

Interestingly, forgiveness is being talked about these days outside of churches. Psychologists and health professionals are talking about it, too. Recent research says that forgiving other people reduces such things as bitterness, anger, hostility, hatred, resentment, and fear, and that means our hearts, our immune system, even brain function and memory will improve. Research also shows that people who forgive tend to have more friends, and people with more friends tend to be healthier than people with few friends. Old Confucius was on to something when he said: “If you devote your life to seeking revenge, first dig two graves.”

Having a tough time forgiving someone? Maybe you’d like to write us for some help. We’d like to hear from you. We can’t solve all problems, but maybe we can give you some things to think about. Write us at KNLS, Anchor Point, Alaska 99556. Or e-mail us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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