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Aug 19 2014

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Good Words: Forgiveness by Jerry Sittser

Forgiveness

A close friend lent this book, A Grace Disguised, to me when I was on my way to the unexpected funeral of my friend, Grace. In little more than a week, Mom Jean died. Since then, I have continued to process and read this excellent book for those who have experienced loss.

The question of fairness comes up quickly in the face of loss. Why? Why her? Why now? It just doesn't seem fair. As in the case of these two loved ones, there is no villian. None that could be punished. For Grace, I have no villian to name except seizure. With Jean, the villian is the JC virus. For other kinds of loss, there is a name and a face. Another big wrestling match of the soul is the problem of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a struggle in the face of injustice. Naturally, we want wrongs righted. We want the “bad guy” punished. This righting of wrongs doesn't always happen on this side of eternity. People do get away with crimes. And even when justice is enacted, forgiveness isn't the natural response to justice. Forgiveness is still a choice. There is a reason we are told to forgive–it's a hard choice.

When I think of the times I have struggled with forgiveness, I often found my greatest struggle with the wrong done and how unfair it was that he or she was able to get away with it. It wasn't stopped or prevented. He or she walked away unscathed, and here I am left with putting the pieces back together. That is unfair, I think. The author reminded me of something called mercy.

Mercy

Mercy is the gift I found in those relationships I deeply miss. I never deserved or earned those friendships, and yet they lavished their love on me.

Mercy is the kindness of God in forgiving me time and again. If I were to be judged by my own merits, I wouldn't come out ahead. I'd be in debt. God doesn't relabel my sinful attitudes and behaviors into something more palatable. He never justifies my sin because it was “understandable because…(lame rationalization after lame rationalization).” Mercy, I want it and need it.

I do want wrongs righted, but I want to be one who embraces forgiveness and mercy just as vehemently. In the things that are happening in Missouri, heartfelt cries of “unfair” and “unjust” are fueling a flame of emotion. I do hope for justice to prevail (although I have no strong opinions as to what justice should be because I don't know all the facts, and I don't pretend to know how to rule in such a case. May those who do know have every kind of wisdom.) More than justice though, I hope for the awareness of mercy to abound. When awareness of mercy is fresh, forgiveness comes easier. In its time (and it may take a long time), may forgiveness win and rule the day. I've heard stories of forgiveness in the face of death and grief, and I am awestruck. (Forgiveness like this is supernatural.) May mercy abound.

 

Note: I found the quote from Jerry Sittser in his book, A Grace Disguised.

 

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