"But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar."
~2 Samuel 13:32
Two years passed before Absolom had the opportunity to kill his brother, Amnon, for raping their sister, Tamar. Absolom had been "determined" to make sure Amnon paid for his misdeed, and eventually, the opportunity arose. By this time, I wonder if Tamar's honor was still the primary focus, or had the rage against Amnon taken on a life of it's own?
Sometimes bitterness, hatred, anger, hurt feelings, and the desire to get even can blind us. We can become so focused on our own private hell, we go beyond reason. I remember when the uncle who molested me from age three to age eleven died. My father came by to see if I wanted to go to the funeral but I refused. All I wanted to do was dance on his grave in a red dress and high heels.
Would that make me feel better? Would that have resolved the conflict within? Would it have affected him in any way? Probably not.
We often turn to revenge when we've been harmed by another. Turning the inward frustration, pain, and anger on the person who harmed us seems like a great idea. We think that by giving those feelings an outlet, they'll go away. We think that if we can hurt back it will have some type of soothing affect on our soul. Our flesh calls for pure, unadulterated revenge to set things right in our world, however, the opposite often occurs. Revenge doesn't make us feel better and often leads to a new, larger set of problems.
Everything Christ preached goes against our natural desires. Matthew 6:15 says, "if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you." For most of us, that's difficult to understand. Forgiving those who have harmed us goes completely against our human nature.
But isn't that why Jesus came to Earth? Wasn't He here to set the example of unconditional love and absolute forgiveness to all who ask?
I heard a priest say, in response to being asked if he forgave the men who killed his brother, "No, I do not forgive them."
"But you're a priest!"
"Christ forgives. I'm not Christ!"
I think a lot of people might respond that way. I know I did for a lot of years. The idea that I should forgive the man who ruined my life was abhorrent. He deserved my hatred and loathing. Most assuredly, he did not deserve my forgiveness. But, in the cold light of day, do any of us actually deserve forgiveness? Is any one of us able to look at the the Cross and declare we are not in need of what Christ did there? And if we are in need of Christ's forgiveness, how much more should we forgive others?
Forgiving those who have caused us great harm isn't easy. It doesn't always happen overnight. Forgiveness is a learning process, and it is definitely a growing experience. And it is absolutely necessary if we are to move forward in life.
"...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (Philippians 3:13).
Forgiving others frees us from the grip of what our abusers have done to us and allows us to move forward toward what lies ahead. It moves us out of a murky past and into a bright future. Refusal to forgive is committing to a life of bondage and slavery. Forgiveness is a commitment to freedom.
©Marie McGaha 2017
No reproduction without author's permission