Sunday, October 25, 2015
The Power of Forgiveness
Today I will remind people of an upcoming study/discussion series at Bridge St. called The Power of Forgiveness based on an excellent book and DVD which explores the different facets of forgiveness. I have used it before and it provoked worthwhile discussion. Few if any of us get through life without dealing with issued of forgiveness, or "unforgiveness" as it is sometimes termed. Many faithful churchgoers come to worship with a ton of unresolved junk, and reconciliation seems next to impossible. Congregations often simmer with the heat of painful episodes from the past.
I was aware this week of two situations, half a world away from each other. In London Ontario a woman was convicted of dangerous driving when her vehicle smashed into a store, killing two little girls and injuring the mother. The 66-year-old woman apologized from the heart and expressed gratitude to the father of the children who acknowledged that his family had been torn apart but also spoke words of forgiveness. The convicted woman asked for their prayers.
In South Africa the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, shot and killed by Oscar Pistorius spoke to a group of school students. Despite her loss she said that “I didn’t want him to be thrown in jail and be suffering because I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and that’s not going to bring Reeva back,” . “But in my heart, I don’t want revenge towards him. I’m past that. Once you have told God that you forgive, you have to forgive. And I don’t want him to suffer .... I would certainly not want to hurt another human being.”
She added: “One has to forgive to move on, otherwise you become ill. For God expects you to forgive, and until you’ve done that, you can’t move forward in any way.”
Both of these responses touched me and obviously they are newsworthy in a world of "eye for an eye." Often forgiveness just doesn't seem to make sense, yet revenge is so much more senseless. We follow the Christ of forgiveness and reconciliation through the cross, and finding our way into that forgiveness is both our lifelong challenge and our hope.