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Many things come to mind when we think of Easter. Forgiveness kept coming to the forefront of my mind the last few weeks. After all, that is why Jesus had to die — so we could be forgiven of our sins.

What kept coming to my mind, particularly, was how powerful forgiveness really is. Forgiveness provides so much relief. No doubt we all have done someone wrong and had feelings of regret. What relief and joy we have when that person forgives us and our relationship is restored. That is normally the way we see forgiveness — someone doing something for us. In this case, forgiving us.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press President Jeff DeLoach

Another huge power of forgiveness is forgiving. Surely we all have experienced feelings of someone doing us wrong. Our nature is to want to get them back in some way. We may spend hours, days or even years being angry, frustrated and bitter; those nasty feelings can make life miserable and separate us from the joy of living. Now think about when someone did you wrong, and you truly forgave them — and maybe you not only forgave them, but you completely forgot about the wrong. Wow, what a relief that is. Your joy was restored, and that relationship was restored. The feelings that separated you from the joy of living were gone. How powerful forgiving others can be!

To achieve the most joy and happiness that forgiving has to offer, forget whatever you gave forgiveness for. In Hebrews 8:13, we learn that God said, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Once we forgive and remember no more, our complete relationship and joy with that individual is restored. All of that is based on the individual who wronged us truly wanting forgiveness. And in many relationships, both parties have to ask for forgiveness.

We can achieve this same forgiveness from Christ, and our relationship with him can be restored, no longer separated from him because of our sin. The Scriptures teach us that Jesus (the son of God) had to suffer death for our sins but rose from the dead on the third day for us to be given the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins.

We see these recorded words of Jesus in Luke 24:44-48 when he appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem after rising from his death on the cross: He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Knowing Christ rose from the dead gives us the ability to have faith in him so we can live our life on earth with true joy and happiness. The beloved verse in John 3:16 tells us, "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." This is true because Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day (Easter, which we celebrate today), and his death on the cross represents the payment for our sins.

Embracing this opportunity for life with Jesus allows us to put things into perspective, helping us deal successfully with life's everyday challenges that create worry and unhappiness. It also gives us the ability to forgive those who have trespassed against us. We learn in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

It was our desire to offer you something additional in today's paper that would help honor the true meaning of Easter and provide you a way to gather with your family and share the story of the Resurrection of Christ. We hope you enjoy the special publication.

We also want to sincerely thank the businesses and organizations that sponsored this section, enabling us to bring it into your home.

We wish you a blessed and enjoyable Easter.

Contact Jeff DeLoach at jdeloach@timesfreepress.com.

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