Hanging on to anger and resentment—which makes us live in a state of stress—can damage the heart as well as the soul.
Modern research indicates that failure to forgive may be a risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, and a score of other chronic stress-related illnesses.
Medical and psychological studies have also shown that a person holding on to anger and resentment is at increased risks for anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and is more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, backaches, heart attacks, and even cancer.
The reverse is also true. Genuine forgiveness can transform those ailments, thus stress, anxiety, and depression are reduced, as well as the physical disorders.
But then, we’ve known this for millennia, even if we don’t admit it.
For example, Psalm 32 is about someone who refused to receive forgiveness (and I think the other side is also true). “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long” (verse 3).
Health benefits are only the beginning. To forgive is also to release ourselves from whatever trauma and hardship we have experienced and begin to reclaim our lives as our own.
By forgiving, we benefit with improved health.