Yesterday, my post was about apologizing, saying AND meaning those words, "I'm so sorry!" Today's is the reciprocating action.....being fast to forgive. How is that possible when we may have been hurt so deeply?
I've read many incredible stories about people who forgave in the most heart-wrenching situations, especially when forgiving would seem so unnecessary on a human level. The drunk driver whose thoughtless ways resulted in the death of a spouse or child, but the family member forgave the killer. Or the one who was betrayed by their spouse but in God's love, the other spouse forgave. And, today they have a dream-come-true marriage together.
On October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts walked into an Amish school in rural Pennsylvania and shot ten young school girls, killing five of them. On the same day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the girls who had died, told other relatives, "We must not think evil of this man." Another member of the community visited the shooter's family that day to comfort them and offer forgiveness. Dozens more attended his funeral and offered to give financial support to his widow. One member of the community later said, "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss, but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts."
I heard it quoted: "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Unwillingness to forgive only eats away at our hearts and souls, while forgiveness frees us. No greater forgiver was Jesus Christ -- Who after the lies, the rejections, the beatings, the denials and the pain, said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
When we have been hurt, we face the same challenge that those who we've hurt faced. Will we respond with kindness, compassion and forgiveness? And, will forgiving become a way of life for us? The Apostle Paul said, "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ." Ephesians 4:32. Sure seems like a tall order, but one that comes with sweet rewards. We can move on with our life, have freedom from the pain of the past, enjoy greater happiness in the present and greater health and well-being. I'd say that's a good pay-back!