Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 5 of the Lord’s Prayer Series “Forgive as We Forgive” (LISTEN HERE).
Scarlett Lewis’ son, Jesse, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the biggest school shooting in U.S. history. At first, she said, she felt like her anger sapped all her strength and energy. She was angry at the shooter and at the mother for unwittingly arming him. But she made a choice to forgive.
She told The Forgiveness Project, “Forgiveness felt like I was given a big pair of scissors to cut the tie and regain my personal power. It started with a choice and then became a process.” She urged mourners at Jesse’s funeral to change their angry thoughts into loving ones, that thereby they might change the world. (read more of her story at https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories-library/scarlett-lewis/)
How would you react if your child was one killed senselessly in a school shooting?
Here’s three things about forgiveness:
- Forgiveness releases anger and bitterness. When I don’t forgive, anger and bitter emotions can ruin us physically and spiritually. Many would say, “She has a right to be angry.” We could agree. The killing of an innocent child is evil. The consequences are lifelong. She could be angry that he took her child away, deprived her of future memories, and left a void in their family that can never be filled. Forgiveness released the anger.
- Forgiveness is a choice. The only one who can forgive is you. (First the Lord of course.) A family member can’t forgive for you; neither can a friend or a stranger. Forgiveness must come from your heart because you are the one who was wronged. Only you can forgive the one who sinned against you.
- Forgiveness is a process. While forgiveness happens when you choose to forgive, allowing that forgiveness to remove anger, bitterness, hurt and accept the new normal takes time. While it can happen overnight, often the larger the injury, the longer the healing. But forgiveness does initiate that healing.
This articles written about Scarlett do not indicate her faith or reference the forgiveness that Jesus gives. If she is not a Christian, it speaks to the general benefit of forgiveness to replace hate with love. However, for the Christian, this journey might look very similar. The depth of understanding forgiveness and the process to heal after a horrific injustice is magnified under the shadow of the cross of Jesus.
Forgiveness is a challenge. It is not easy. However, it is the path of a Christian to reflect the forgiveness that we have been shown.
Admittedly, that is easier said than done. I have struggled with smaller issues to forgive someone, and probably if I am honest there are still situations that reappear that need the power of Christ’s forgiveness to help me fully forgive.
So we continue to seek the Lord’s strength to put into practice Jesus’ words:
Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. …Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Apply: What situation is still “eating you?” Ask the Lord for strength to forgive and release the anger, bitterness, frustration that situation has been causing.
Prayer: Lord, forgiveness is hard, but the blessing is profound. Thank you for your forgiveness and we ask your strength to forgive all those who have wronged us. AMEN.