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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Father, Forgive

Forgive. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. Forgive us ... as we forgive them ... him ... her...
But we cry out for justice! Why should ‘they’ get off scot-free?  

Yet holding on to unforgiveness does not mete out punishment to those who trespass against us. Instead, holding a grudge metes out punishment to the one holding the grudge, in terms of physical, emotional, spiritual sickness.

There is evidence that nursing a grudge is sometimes connected to heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, even diabetes! Not that everyone who suffers from these and other ailments does because they are holding on to grudges, but just that these illnesses occur in a higher prevalence among people who haven’t been able to forgive.

It is just emerging that the co-pilot of the German plane which slammed into the French Alps Tuesday and killed 150 people deliberately crashed it. As the relatives of the dead gathered today in the nearby town, the parents of this co-pilot were among them and were there to grieve and mourn. Suddenly they have been separated from the other mourners and their own grief has been ratcheted up. Rather than mourning together with others, they now bear a lonely guilt and no doubt a hurt and an anger and a disbelief. And grief. Gut-wrenching grief.

Forgive, for they don’t know what they are doing. Jesus prayed that prayer as the Roman centurions nailed him to the cross. He prayed it not just for the soldiers doing the hammering, but for all those involved in bringing him to this point – Judas, Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, the Pharisees, the mob. Sinners. You and me.

There was no justice for him. Not at that point. Not ever. He paid the price of sin though he was sinless. He took my punishment. And yours. Voluntarily. 

Forgiveness comes at a cost. But so does unforgiveness. To allow unforgiveness to fester is to extend the offence against you. 

Some offences are so horrific, though, that it takes an act of supernatural grace to free us to let go. It needs prayer for God’s intervention to enable us to forgive, to move on, to continue to live a life in grace, through the power of God.

My prayer tonight is for those affected by this tragedy. May they be given the grace and the power – immediately or over the next days, weeks, and years – to forgive. May they be comforted tonight, held close in the arms of our Saviour.

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