Q: My mother and I always had a rocky relationship, but I’ve been filled with remorse ever since her death. I’d give almost anything to be able to tell her that I’m sorry for all the hurt I caused her, but it’s too late. Please encourage people to make things right while they can. — J.G.
A: Thank you for your letter; I certainly hope it will encourage people to leave the past behind and be reconciled to those we have hurt before it’s too late. Nothing — absolutely nothing — is more final than death, and it closes the door on everything we should have done but didn’t.
As I read your letter I couldn’t help but think of King David in the Old Testament. In many ways David was a great king, but in other ways he failed, and one of his greatest failures was as a father. He ignored his responsibilities as a parent, and his son Absalom turned into an undisciplined, self-centered rebel. In time Absalom tried to seize his father’s throne but was killed in the subsequent fighting. All David could do was weep with regret: “If only I had died instead of you — O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).
Admittedly it’s not easy to go to someone we’ve hurt and tell them we’re sorry (particularly if they’ve also hurt us). Our pride gets in the way; we also fear we might make things worse. But this shouldn’t hold us back. Jesus said, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
No, you’re no longer able to seek your mother’s forgiveness, but you can seek God’s! Confess your sins to him, and by faith open your heart and life to Christ’s forgiveness and love.
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or visit www.billygraham.org.