Matthew 6:14-15 -For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
This scripture is pure and simple. It states we have to forgive others if we expect to be forgiven. And if we choose not to forgive, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. These are potent and powerful words for every person of faith. And particularly challenging when as extreme tragedy or circumstance occurs in ones’ life.
Such is the case with Linda A. She faced the test of that particular passage as she sought to make sense of the tragedy that had befallen her daughter. A lovely young 32-year-old mother of four, who was shot and killed in front of her children by her estranged husband. Nothing brings more heartache or pain than a parent facing their child’s death. Especially one of such horrific means.
The children were traumatized. And the oldest was trying to stop the bleeding. She was found screaming, repeating, “I couldn’t save mommy!” Linda was devastated as her whole world changed in that very moment. Her entire existence would never be the same. Nor would it be for those grieving children, aged 5 – 11.
Linda tried to make sense of it, asking “Why?” over and over again. She struggled with her faith, and then became angry. This was an ongoing battle, plus she was granted by a court of law, to be responsible for the children. Her daughter, Ashley decreed should something happen to her, then the grandmother will be their legal guardians.
Linda asked, “I’m a Christian and I’m supposed to forgive. How do I forgive this man who killed my daughter in a senseless act of violence in front of his own children? How?”
Colossians 3:13 – Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
She struggled, but a good portion of her energy was put into caring for the grandchildren, that were now hers. She needed to go on for all of them. And for her precious daughter. She received help from a “grief counselor” who was trained to help those who survived violent crimes perpetrated. And for those “left behind” due to a violent crime.
Luke 23:34-35– “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
She was struggling with “forgiving.” She prayed, she yelled. She recoiled from people trying to offer comfort and solace. She was suffering daily. Until, about one year later she had an overwhelming epiphany, she remembered that we are supposed to pray for our enemies. She of course considered her ex -son-in law an enemy and evil. And from the moment she started to pray for him, something immediately began to happen. She described it as a turning point in her life, and she felt the Presence of the LORD come upon her. And so, she continued to pray for “Mark” and her pain lessened, her hatred subsided, and in its place, peace!
Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Linda gradually returned to her “new world” one without her daughter. Yet she felt and saw her in each grandchild’s face. In Sasha’s smile, in Gregory’s laugh, in Nora’s eyes, and in Alexandra’s impish personality. She realized that although her beloved Ashley wasn’t there in the flesh, she was living on in spirit. Her hatred and yearning for “Mark” to suffer and be miserable, and wishing unmentionables things about him, ceased! She forgave him, and actually went to see him in jail, where she spoke with him directly and told him, “I forgive you.” He was sobbing uncontrollably as Linda got up and walked outside, freer than she had ever felt before. She was saved by the LORD’s goodness and light.
Proverbs 20:22 – Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
Romans 12:19 – Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
“Heavenly Father, help those who are subjected to pain and deception to heal, and to feel Your Presence in all they do, help them through the darkness and void of grief and pain, may they trust You, and feel peace and comfort in Your Word and Your promises, and most importantly help them to have a heart to forgive, so they shall live, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”