Forgiveness: How Can We?!

My thoughts can be consuming at times. Do you ever feel this way? 

Ever since I was a little girl I would get these thoughts, somewhat crippling thoughts, where I would think of something and then all of a sudden have an entire scene from a movie playing out in my mind where everything is vivid and so real. For whatever reason, though, the thoughts were and are often times of things I fear… tragic, heartbreaking things. I have always been a very imaginative thinker, but this is on a whole other level. Let me give you an example. I’m driving in the car to work listening to Joy FM, like most mornings and a thought pops into my head about, let’s say, my dad. I think about a conversation we had and then, all of a sudden, that thought completely shifts to him getting severely sick, he’s in the hospital, and then I’m speaking at his funeral. I’m trying not to sob uncontrollably at the funeral, but I want people to hear these wonderful things about my dad. In a matter of mere seconds these events have unfolded in my cerebrum, which is the part of the brian that thinks for us. I call these flash thoughts because they come on like a flash…

I know these thoughts are not from God because they scare me and make me sad.  I know that God doesn’t want me to fear, but instead to trust His will and plan for my life. I’m not naive and I know that all things in life aren’t always good, but I do believe that in every situation we go through, there’s change somewhere in there if we let it take root and germinate. 

You might be thinking to yourself, “Okay Steph, but what does all this have to do with forgiveness?” Well, I ‘m getting to that point so bear with me. I feel that I’m a very forgiving person, but there’s one thought that haunts me, scares me to the core actually to even mention it aloud. I have this one flash thought that pops in my head and it literally takes my breath away. It’s about my children being abducted, taken against their will, and forced to do unimaginable things. Please don’t stop reading. I know this is such an uncomfortable thing to think about, but there are people out there that are capable of doing such things.  And people who do these things scare me beyond rational thought. I think about REAL people who have experienced this and have actually gone through such horrific events. I even think about the initial phone call that parents receive when they learn of their children’s fate.  How can they even endure? Can you even imagine?! No, and I hope we never ever have to.  I think to myself, “How can they forgive the person that did those things to their child?” Don’t get me wrong, losing a child to anything is horrifying, but to lose a child in this way, the continuous thoughts must be unbearable. 

I find myself reflecting on the movie and novel, “The Shack.” If you haven’t seen or read it, it’s a must see/read. The protagonist, Mack Phillips, spirals into a deep depression that has him questioning his innermost beliefs. This is due to his youngest daughter being taken and murdered in a shack while he and his family are on a camping trip in Oregon. As he faces a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter in the mail urging him to go back to the shack where his daughter was found. Through a series of events that unfold over the course of a weekend, Mack finds himself in a mysterious encounter with three different people. In the movie and novel, these three characters represent the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit of the Trinity. These three teach Mack that he can forgive because we are forgiven. In the movie, the character Papa, which is a representative of God the Father, tells Mack that he’s not asking him to excuse what had been done to his daughter, rather he asks Mack to forgive and trust that he knows what’s right and what’s best. He also reminds Mack that the man that killed his daughter is still his son too  (insert mouth drop…) 

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we may die to sins and live righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:23-25
(NIV)

Yes, I know that this is a fictional movie and novel, but how can God love a man or woman that could do this to a child?!  How? How can we forgive people that do this? This is how… we can forgive, but not excuse, because we are all sinners and we are all accountable for what we do here on earth. We, as humans, segment and prioritize the origin of sin and which sin is worse than the other. Jesus tells us that ALL sin is forgivable except for one. In Matthew 12:30-32 (NIV) Jesus tells us this: 

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

We are told here that we are forgiven of every sin, except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Essentially that means to hate the light of Christ that becomes clearer. To completely shut out the light and to have a hardening of the heart. To completely hate everything that Christ stands for. I’d say that there are many ugly, ugly sins out there, but most of them aren’t this. Yet for some reason, we become the judges, the condemners. 

So, the question of how we forgive is answered by HE FORGIVES US. We think we deserve forgiveness and love, but in reality we ALL deserve DEATH, the death that Christ endured on the cross for us.  But He pardoned us through His blood, His body. When I think of that, it feels like a punch in the gut, a reminder that I don’t deserve anything but death, but that I’m so grateful I get to go to the cross daily to ask for forgiveness. As followers of Christ we must remember that sin is sin, no matter how it rears its ugly head.  And if God can forgive us when we deserve death, we can learn to forgive others. God reaches out his hand of grace to us and asks us to grab hold, not to excuse the sin, but to forgive the sin. He asks us to trust Him to do what’s right, just, and best. How can we? Because HE does…

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