Another mass shooting. Tragedy and sorrow abound.
Yet families of victims in previous massacres, such as the one earlier this year in Charleston and the 2006 Amish school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, have expressed forgiveness toward the accused perpetrators. Most of us are astounded by the depth of faith needed in those instances.
Forgiveness, according to Wikipedia, is the “intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
Did you get that? Forgiveness is intentional. It doesn’t come automatically.
Hopefully, only a few people will ever be in a position like those families in Charleston, Nickel Mines, and, now, Roseville, Oregon. And yet all of us struggle even to forgive those who hurt our feelings or take advantage of us.
But Jesus even asked God to forgive those who were about to crucify Him: “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’ Meanwhile, the soldiers divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice.” (Luke 23:34)
Even as the soldiers were gambling to see who would get His clothes–His only possessions–while He hung dying on the Cross for the sins of the whole world, Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who were responsible for torturing and crucifying Him. Yet we hold grudges against people just because they said something we didn’t like, or cut us off in traffic, or received a job promotion, money, or recognition that we thought we deserved. If He forgave those who killed Him, how can we do anything less to those who only slight us?
Psalm 99:8 tells us that God is the God-Who-Forgives: “O Lord, our God, you answered them. You showed them that you are a forgiving God and that you are a God who punishes their sinful deeds.”
Not only does He forgive, but God will help us forgive others. Pray for God’s help to forgive that person that has mistreated you. And thank Jesus that He died so you could be forgiven for mistreating others.