Forgiveness - an 11-letter word that looks simple but made complicated by man.
I have had the opportunity of listening to the song written and sung by Matthew West entitled "Forgiveness", which was based on a story sent to him by a mother who lost her daughter to drunk driving. The forgiving part happened when the mother went to see the drunk driver in jail and forgave him and helped him appeal to cut his jail sentence in half!
Scriptures says in Matthew 6:14, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you..."
Being a mother myself, I can never imagine myself being in her position - but she did what God would have done - she forgave the young man who killed her daughter.
We don't need to be in this kind of situation to test our Christian ability to forgive - mistakes are made, a wrong word is uttered or we are rubbed the wrong way and it happens - we curse, we hate, we seek revenge - our minds are filled with rage and all we can ever think of is that we want to hurt those who hurt us.
It often happens to the people closest to us - a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend. Careless words and thoughtless actions are said and done when we get upset or mad. We are hurting and therefore we want to hurt others too - hurting people hurt people.
At times I ask myself, why do I get mad? What triggers it? Why do I want to get even? Was my life threatened that it enraged me so much? Did the other person do something to me that is simply unforgivable?
And I realized that most of the times, the root of our anger and unforgiveness in our daily lives is pride. We cannot simply accept that someone said or did something to us that hurt us, mostly our pride.
Somebody may have said something we feel is uncalled for because it hit a nerve or two. Or someone did something we did not like that we felt insulted. Whatever it is, it is always something that we think we do not deserve, something that we think is unfair for us.
But come to think of it - is it really that bad that we should lose sleep over it? Is it really that unfair that we keep on thinking about it? Is it really so unjust that we talk about it all the time and harbor resentment against the other person?
Sometimes we say that we have already forgiven the offender, but have we really? Then why do we still think about it, talk about it and feel bad about it? How then can we say that we have truly forgiven?
We may say that we are justified to be angry, to be upset, to not forgive easily because we have been maltreated or that we have been offended several times and we believe that we do not deserve such treatments and that once or twice is more than enough.
And how many times should we forgive? Are we justified in our anger and hatred when we have been hurt or insulted more than once?
In Matthew 18:21-22, when Peter asked how many times he should forgive a brother who sinned against him, he asked Jesus if he should forgive until seven times. Jesus instead told him, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven...."
70 x 7 times - that is a lot! What does this mean? Did Jesus really want us to count the times that we were hurt and when it reaches 491st time we are already justified to fight back, to hurt that person back?
I don't think so. I believe that Jesus only used this number to tell us that we should forgive as many times more than we can count in our hands - He is telling us to lose track of count and forgive anyway.
Besides, just like what the lyrics of the song says, when we do not forgive, the person who we hurt the most is ourselves. Carrying grudges and plotting ways of how to get even with the person who hurt us is not only detrimental to our health - but also a poison to our soul.
Jesus taught us love and humility and I believe that these two qualities are what we need to be able to truly forgive and live a life of happiness and peace.
Blessed lenten season to everyone!
Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all.