The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. (Dan. 9:9)

THE LETTER IN MY FACULTY MAILBOX was from a student who had been in my senior English class five years earlier. She apologized for cheating on one of my tests. At first I felt embarrassed that I had not caught her, then deeply moved that she asked my pardon. In tears I read how hard it was for her to confess such a transgression, yet she summoned the courage to do so. She did not include a return address so I had no way of contacting her, but silently I whispered, “I forgive you,” and asked God to bless her.

Daniel apologized to God on behalf of Israel and himself. Before he could ask for forgiveness, though, he had to tell God how they had rebelled against Him. Daniel listed ways they had sinned, such as not obeying Him or keeping His laws. In a similar way, my student rebelled against me, for I reminded the class before each test, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” Daniel knew God was “merciful and forgiving,” and I hope my student believed the same about me and felt the release at such confession. Forgiveness is the knife that cuts the cords of captivity. God always forgives us, even if it takes five years or longer to confess a sin and to ask Him to erase it.

Grant forgiveness when others request it, and seek daily pardon from God.

Alice Thomas is an adjunct professor of English at Lone Star Montgomery College in Conroe, Texas. She loves to garden and read.