Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Unnatural Act of Forgiveness

 "I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, 
not with the fanfare of epiphany, 
but with pain gathering its things, 
packing up, and slipping away 
unannounced in the middle of the night."
Khaled Hosseini,  Kite Runner
Forgiveness is not optional.
We are to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Just as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him.
"Father, forgive them. They do not know..."

But forgiveness is not natural.
It goes against everything in us 
that cries out for fairness.
The thing that we need to forgive
 often involves pain--
from the sting of an unkind word to the 
deep gash left by an abusive relationship.
We are often left holding the pain, 
knowing the one whom we must forgive
will likely not acknowledge nor ask for it.

While we cannot afford to dwell on pain for too long,
we cannot afford to ignore it either.
We live in a fallen world where everyone
has experienced the pain of wrong choices.
When the wrong involves a violation of trust, 
or results in a life altering consequence, 
it can become even harder to forgive.

Then Peter came to him and asked, 
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone
who sins against me? Seven times?"
"No, not seven times," Jesus replied,
"but seventy times seven!"
Matthew 18:21-22

Sometimes we must forgive over and over,
trusting that our hearts will eventually catch up
with the assent our heads have given.
I love that quote in Kite Runner because
I think that is often how our hearts join in.
We think it will be some big moment where
we experience the "fanfare of epiphany."
But one day, we realize that our pain
has quietly packed up and left.
Our head and our heart become one again.

God works in us through grace
to pull out the stingers that wound us.
He is gentle and He is kind, 
and it often takes time to get them out
so that the healing leaves no scar.
We have a responsibility to forgive,
even if it is daily, seventy times seven.
He takes our acts of obedience and
begins the work of healing and restoring,
applying balm to tender and wounded places.

"He heals the brokenhearted and
bandages their wounds...
His delight is in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in His unfailing love."
Psalm 147
Oh, the number of ways that
He is always, always,
always good.

1 comment:

  1. nice comments on the stinger of pain by whatever situations that may occur. it does take time for the heart to catch up with the head sometimes several years while the tweezers of God pulls the unknown slivers out of your soul.