"Do you forgive them?" I remember that question being asked repeatedly when I was in elementary school. It was a simple concept back then. If you did something wrong, you said sorry and moved on. But I've learned over the years that it's not quite as easy as that. This could be taken as a sad revelation; after all, doesn't everyone wish life was easier? However, I see it as an amazing thing. If forgiveness was really as easy as "I'm sorry," we would never have any internal strength--or faith for that matter.
Psalm 85:2: "You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins." I don't think it's any coincidence that this verse showed up on my phone on the same day I sat down to write this article. God was reminding me that forgiveness is a deep act of love, not just a few unmeaningful words. I'm not saying that we shouldn't say, "I'm sorry," but the meaning behind an apology is the true decider of sincerity. Only because of God's ultimate act of love can we partake in such a beautiful action. And, I, for one, am so grateful that I get to give you a list of songs about this very important topic.
Leanna Crawford "What You Can't Forget"
Pop artist Leanna Crawford has recently swept radio off its feet with her beautiful music, in a way few others can do. The song's lyrics question the age-old advice: "Forgive and forget," in an inquisitive, yet faithful way I really admire. Forgiveness is not as easy as it's made out to be, so I'm here to change that stereotype.
Words and actions against us can leave hurtful scars and a quick apology doesn't magically make the pain go away. The beauty of the situation is that God realizes this harsh truth. He doesn't expect us to forget about the suffering, but instead, provides a path of healing. In His hands, "wounds become scars" and because it is not in our human nature to forgive, we must reach out and ask as Leanne echos, "Lord, help me to do what I can't."
I love this song for its clarity and pure message. The epitome of its title, the song holds a simple emphasis on the fact that because of Jesus, we are forgiven. Pop icon Crowder uses the lyrics as a storyboard, weaving a tale of a forgotten, broken person. There's no avoiding the truth; it's the sinner we all were before Jesus.
Although an admittedly much-overused verse, John 3:16 states this truth: "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Our poor choices made us each deserving of death. But, there's freedom from death, because of God's great love for all of us, His children.
We the Kingdom "Free, Amen"
Contemporary artist Franni Rae Cash Cain leads this song with a beauty that breathes right through my ears and brings peace into my soul. The lyrics have a simple--yet encouraging--chorus straight from the Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:17. As the lyrics state, "All my chains are in the past/Thank God almighty I am free at last." There is no purer source of joy than reflecting on my salvation and listening to this song is the perfect way to do that.
Tenth Avenue North "Losing"
I grew up hearing this song on the radio, but I don't think I truly understood the meaning of it until now. Contemporary Christian band, Tenth Avenue North, brings forth a message of selflessness in this song that makes me rethink my daily actions. "They don't know what they've been doing" is a difficult concept to grasp but important because it's straight from the mouth of Jesus.
Our flesh wants revenge and wants to hate. But the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus, offers up a different way to go about life. He has instructed us to ask God for "grace to forgive them." It's exactly what He did as He hung on that cross, dying for His sins. In Luke 23:24, Jesus cried out "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Now, we're in a similar situation. Will you turn a blind eye to your brothers and sisters in Christ or will you forgive with a godly love? It's up to you but just a hint, that the second option will turn out much better.
Hillsong United "Lead Me to the Cross"
Worship group Hillsong UNITED begins the song as a gentle almost whispered prayer. However, once the electric guitar is added in, the song ramps up and the lyrics take on a whole new meaning. They skillfully use their voices to accentuate the message of heading to the place where we remember our worth--the cross.
As crazy as it sounds, God knows where you're going in the future even when you don't. When you're waiting for a decision or report or anything similar, the best thing to do is pray. My favorite prayer is reflected in this song; it's such a raw thing to come before God and admit I was wrong. It's a moment when He sees me at my worst yet still chooses to love.
God forgives our independent tendencies to stray off the trail but we never leave His map. When we ask Him to "bring me to my knees, "He listens. He sees us and He is the gentle hand guiding us back to the cross.
Tasha Cobbs Leonard "Break Every Chain"
I chose this version of the song because worship leader Tasha Cobbs Leonard sings with such authority. Her voice inspires me every time I feel I am too broken to come to God. She clearly rejoices in the forgiveness of the Lord and reminds me that "There is power in the name of Jesus" enough to wash us clean again and again.
Do you think you've done too many things wrong, and sinned too many times for God to possibly still accept you? But do you want the truth? Nothing is too much for God. True to the lyrics of this anthem, He breaks "every chain." Not just some of them, but all of them.
Bethel Music "No Longer Slaves"
Jonathan and Melissa Helser, married worship leaders of Bethel Music, have an amazing worship moment in this song. The intensity of their melody is awe-inspiring. I love that the wonder is not limited to the singers. You can have a similar moment at home. You don't need a big crowd or a fancy stage. Just cry out to the Lord, and watch how He turns your life around.
I absolutely love the first verse of this song because it combines my love of Jesus and music. God really does "unravel me with a melody" and surround me "with a song...'til all my fears are gone." I believe this song has an anointing over it, and I hope you feel empowered after listening to it as I do.
Phil Wickham "It's Always Been You"
Phil Wickham is a contemporary Christian artist who never fails to amaze me with his syncretic songs of pop and worship. This one in particular highlights the perfect way to look back on the past. He reflects with a perspective of "how has God moved in me?" The melody fills me with gratitude for all God has done for me.
You may think God has abandoned you but just because your situation is tough right now, it doesn't mean He has left your side. When we're alone, shaking in fear, it's not magic that brings peace. It's God and His "voice that calms the storm inside me."
We may grow and change, but our need for Him never goes away. He "stood with me in the fire," "pulled me out of the water," and so much more. God hasn't left you, in fact, He is the one person who will go through it all with you. You are the child, He is the Father and He will hold your hand the whole way through.
Selena Schulz is NRT’s youngest staff contributor. She loves God, music, reading, and writing.
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