Friday, September 23, 2011

The problem of forgiveness

 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14, 15

Bryan Stow can speak again.

And he wants to see his kids.
Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside of Dodger Stadium on opening night of the season recently uttered his first words since awakening from a medically induced coma.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A criminal complaint against two new suspects describes in graphic detail the injuries suffered by a San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten nearly to death outside Dodger Stadium — including cuts to the victim's face and tongue.

As I looked at the photo in the paper of beating victim Bryan Stow and his two kids, I struggled. Then when I saw the photo of the two suspects who were charged, I struggled again, big time. How to forgive something that horrific? Could I forgive someone who did that? What if it was my that was beaten almost to death. His only crime? Wearing a Giants Jersey to a Dodgers game.

Forgiveness is a big issue, one of the toughest. Peter struggled with it......he asked Jesus how many times he needed to forgive someone who had wronged him. I don't think he liked Jesus answer any better than I would.

It seems there are so many things in our society that are so hard to forgive. Our justice system too often fails us....lets killers and drug dealers, pedophiles back out on the streets only to have them do the same things they did before. We send children into the arms of parents that have no right to have them. As an animal lover I am distraught at the amount of cruelty inflicted on them.

We scream for justice, and we wouldn't be wrong in that.

But forgiveness is the bedrock of our faith. Christianity was founded on forgiveness.....How God Himself pardoned us. The painful fact is, each one of us has turned away from Christ at some point or other. It's what put Him on the cross, after all.

I sometimes think of forgiveness in terms of degree. I could forgive this but not that....never that. I think I could forgive something done to me easier than something done to someone I care about.

But I stand here in a state of grace, knowing that Christ forgave me everything.....wiped my slate clean. I also know that Jesus expects me to forgive everything wronged me, not just what I choose. I remember that the same Holy Spirit that made it possible for Jesus to forgive the world lives in me.

His forgiveness flowing through the Holy Spirit, flowing through me. God doing the forgiveness for me.

That is the only way I can reconcile it in a way that makes sense. Even then it would be an agonizing wrestling match between my will and what I know God expects. Yet as I stand here forgiven, looking forward to a future filled with hope, could I rationalize the right to withhold that same forgiveness to someone who wronged me?

I think of the road to Calvary Jesus walked for me once again and I already know the answer.

Though I sincerely hope I will never be put to the test, I know that it is the one thing that would make my Christianity more real to the world than anything my words could ever say.


  1. It's as though we give ourselves a gift when we choose to forgive.

  2. Yes it is, reminds me of that saying..... "Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Lori

  3. It is very humbling when we take the time to reflect on how Jesus suffered for our sins. I know the bible says sin is sin and Christ died for all of them, but I too struggle with the mindset that I could not forgive something horrific done to someone I love (especially). I suppose though just as the Lord gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding when we most need it, the ability to have that kind of forgiveness will be given when and as needed also.
    ~Peace and Blessings In Jesus~

  4. This is something that I struggle with also. The story of Dr. William Petit and his family comes to mind everytime I think of forgiveness. How much can the human spirit endure and be expected to forgive also? I'm with you Lori, I pray that I'm never so sorely tried in this manner. However, as you mentioned God doing the forgiveness for you...with God all things are possible.


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