“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)
I can tell you, there was a time (in 2003) when I seriously considered hating my then-wife, when another man was preferred over me enough to end the marriage. But somehow I was held by God enough that the words of Charles R. Swindoll reverberated within me: “Ask the Lord to protect you from hating this person who has hurt you; ask the Lord to protect your love for them.”
I did that, and it was so; forgiveness was not hard at all (or less hard than I thought it might be).
It sounds bizarre to the many that a victim of violence might forgive the perpetrator; that the family who has lost someone dear to the cruellest imaginable crimes might have saved up in their hearts space for a true allegiance of grace.
Such grace is only from God.
It is a miracle.
No one and nothing could make us feel this way as to be able to hold enough love in our hearts when the vestiges of hate throb otherwise everywhere.
How is Such ‘Impossible’ Forgiveness Achieved?
It is best to say some things can’t be explained—especially the miraculous—those deeds of faith we surrender are imperative and God is made most great within one embodied being—body, mind, and soul—that we would give up our ‘rights’ to hate.
Again, for the many, this is tantamount to treason. The many will say, “Justice must be served!”
But forgiving someone who has hurt us has nothing to do with issues of justice, unless we believe, which is the case, that it is only just that we forgive in all cases—as we have been commanded to by the Lord Jesus.
What seems illogical to the many is never more logical, as God again turns the world of our understanding upside down. We think we know much, and much about justice. But we do not. Our justice, our human justice, is an insufficient and limited justice.
If, however, we have sufficient faith in God—even faith the size of a mustard seed—enough to surrender our will for God’s, we may enjoy the presence of a peace beyond our own understanding, by the strength to give up any possibility of hate, and to hold open room in our hearts for compassion. God, being utterly faithful, will fill that space we save with compassion we will otherwise be thankful for.
This love for the person who has betrayed us is strength for us and them. It is such an extravagant love that the glory for such a thing can go only one place: to God.
The beauty in being hurt is the opportunity to experience the miracle of forgiveness. What sounds silly to many is the power of God to give us freedom from the injustices that could otherwise kill every chance we might have to recover. Forgiveness is both wisdom and life. It is wisdom to give up our hate to God so we may be healed.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.