The scream from the other room sent Mom scurrying.
Little brother: “He hit me with the sword—on purpose.” Already a welt was rising.
Mom: “Did you hit him? Tell him you are sorry. Ask him to forgive you.”
Big brother (reluctantly): “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Little brother (reluctantly): “I forgive you.”
I’m sure this scene plays out 100’s of times a day in homes in every community.
Are the repentance and forgiveness genuine? Perhaps not. But they are learning this essential act to maintain and restore relationships.
It happens in marriage: “Please forgive me for raising my voice against you.” “I forgive you.”
Among friends: “I’m sorry I talked behind your back.” “I forgive you,”
With neighbors: “We were so inconsiderate in letting our kids mess up your garden.” “I forgive you.”
And it happens when unthinkable things have been done to a person:
My friends’ daughter forgave the man who raped her.
Pope John Paul II forgave Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who attempted to assassinate him.
The Amish community of Nickel Mines, Penn, forgave the gunman who shot and killed five schoolgirls.
How is it possible? Yes, we can forgive the small things. Though sometimes we hold on to them.
But the terrible things? I truly cannot comprehend the things people do to other people.
Of course there is one who forgave far more than we can comprehend.
Jesus: Unjustly arrested, illegally tried, beaten, mocked, scourged…
Crucified: nailed to a cross, naked, suffocating, excruciating pain.
Those are the horrors we can apprehend, though surely we would find it difficult to forgive them.
But the physical torture and pain He endured pale compared to the reality of what happened on the cross: Jesus took on Himself all the sin of the world—your sin, my sin, the atrocities of humankind, the selfishness, the big sins and little sins. He became sin.
Why? To pay the penalty for that sin. To satisfy a requirement for justice. He took our place. He died, He carried that sin far away, He buried it in the deepest sea, He did away with it. Why? To ransom us. To restore a lost relationship. To make us is children.
As He hung on the cross, Jesus uttered these wondrous words:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Really? He forgave them? He forgave us? He forgave me?
And He had the audacity to bid us to do the same: We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
How? Jesus did it Himself. And He will give us the will and the power to forgive those who hurt us—even those who hurt us greatly.
And when we sin, His mercy, His forgiveness are there for us.
This is truly a wonder!
What about you? Is there someone you need to forgive?
C2013 Judy Douglass