Formations 07.12.2020: Forgiveness and Moving Forward

Hosea 2:14, 16–3:5

Benjamin Watson (Credit: Essentially Sports)

Benjamin Watson, retired football player for the New England Patriots, has said that he forgives former teammate Drew Brees for insensitive remarks about protests involving the American flag. Brees had commented that he does not support people who disrespect the flag and the military in the name of protest, a reference to athletes and others who have knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality against Black people in this country.

Brees, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, has since apologized for his “tone deaf” response to the issue. Via Instagram, he wrote, “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black [sic] communities.”

Watson says he has had a long conversation with Brees, who was “really beaten up about” how his words were taken “and for not being able to bring the conversation back to where he could show the empathy that I know that he has.”

Watson further says,

Since then he’s apologized and I forgive him for whatever needs to be forgiven. But I think the larger conversation is: “What has he learned from here and how can he be more empathetic from here.” … There has to be a conversation with many of those people who were legitimately, genuinely and rightfully hurt because of who he is and how people, especially in New Orleans, love him and look up to him.

There’s no question that forgiveness is hard. It’s hard for us to seek forgiveness when we have wronged others. It can be just as hard to extend forgiveness so that all parties can move forward. And as Benjamin Watson notes, forgiveness doesn’t mean sweeping the past under the rug: it hopes for growth and change on the part of the offender.

Hosea 2 begins with the theme of Israel’s unfaithfulness and impending punishment, but verses 14-23 foreshadow the nation’s eventual redemption. Yes, their sins have been many, but even so, God stands ready to forgive. The harsh symbolic names Hosea gave his children in chapter 1 will one day be reversed. Grace will abound, but the coming chapters reveal that Israel will still have to come to terms with what it has done and how it can grow from here.

Samir Satam, “Former Patriots’ Player Says He Has Forgiven Drew Brees,” Essentially Sports, 9 Jun 2020 <>.


• When have you been forgiven much?
• When have you been called on to forgive much?
• Is it possible to forgive others and still hold them accountable for their hurtful actions? Explain.

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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