When is the last time you met with someone to say the words, “I’m sorry”? It’s not an easy thing to do. First of all, you have to be humble enough to admit to yourself that you did or said something that was wrong. It can be much easier and less painful to simply justify your action, minimize the hurt, or place at least some of the blame on the victim. Being willing to admit your guilt, to take responsibility for the specific action that caused the harm, and then to express your regret can make you feel vulnerable and misunderstood. It can be tempting to use phrases like, “I’m sorry, but you . . .” or “If I had only . . .”. Using non-apology phrases cannot fully restore a relationship or elicit forgiveness because there is not genuine regret for the hurtful incident or the harsh words. Whether or not forgiveness is extended following a genuine apology never negates the wisdom of expressing your grief and faults.
One of the great ways in which Isaiah ministers to his people is to give them examples of heart felt songs of praise, deep prayers of longing and sincere requests for God’s restoration and healing. Often, he recalls for their benefit the ways in which God has taken care of His chosen people since the time of Abraham and Moses. He regularly pleads with God to reverse His judgment and punishment for their rebellion and sinful choices, asking Him to forgive their iniquities and restore Zion once again. How hard it must have been for Isaiah to continue to do exactly what God had called him to do (chapter 6) when there was no apparent repentance. Along with Isaiah’s direct admonitions and solemn words of prophecy about the coming devastation of the land, he always reminds the people that God is willing to be their Redeemer. He, alone, waits for those who will acknowledge Him as their Father and their LORD.
While there are no guarantees in human relationships, that you will have the joy of hearing those words, “I forgive you”, you can count on the fact that God is always willing to forgive those who come to Him in humility and repentance. It was His promise to His chosen people so long ago and it remains true for you and me today. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9)