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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Forgiveness, When You’ve Tried Everything Else

FATIGUE sets in as the coming of a sunset; though, not peaceful nor welcome. It’s frustrating when you’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I wonder if this is God’s intention: to allow us no satisfaction in attempting things our own way; all in order to show us that it’s only his way that sustainably works, ever.

In a relational life, where we cannot get away from conflicted relationships and emotions and outcomes, we will rub up against seemingly irreconcilable states of thought and being.

We will all experience what it is like to feel betrayed, to land in the desert of disappointment, to know indignant envy at the injustices meted out to us in comparison to others, among the myriad life outcomes anyone could expect of life.

None of us will get it first time. None of us is born with a good grasp on grace. Everyone gets at least a taste of what it’s like to react angrily to a world that just doesn’t understand. In this way we are like islands; never really to be understood.

But this is where God has broken through. God has sent us an example: Jesus Christ. Through the Son of God and his exemplification of the grace to forgive every single injustice (and Jesus suffered significantly more injustice than we could ever suffer) we have the example.

The only way to move on effectively from the hurts of the world is to surrender them to God: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” These words have tremendous power. No one would do what they are doing (or have done) to us if they were us – if they knew the truth behind their actions in the way it makes us feel. If they were us they would desist immediately. They know not what they do. They know not its true effects. Their actions are ignorant. They know only life from their angle of things. And pity them for not attempting to understand. This is why to the one with Christ is to love the other as ourselves; to treat people as we would like to be treated.

When a person cannot be expected to know what it is like to be me, how can I expect them to understand how betrayed I feel or how disappointed I am?

When we have tried everything else in dealing with our anger and resentment, surely forgiveness is worth a go. Surrendering ourselves to the Lord, we begin to understand what it is like for another person to not understand being us.

When we spend even a moment thinking of things from another’s angle we begin to understand forgiveness. They know not what they do or have done to us. They can’t be expected to know. But we can begin to understand them. And that’s how we move toward forgiveness. Understand them.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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