Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Having trouble forgiving?

My mind has been a swirl with the incredibly shocking and disappointing news coming out of South Florida this week. A popular pastor, a pastor whose church brought my husband to the Lord when he was a teenager, has resigned over moral failures. My father works for this church's school so indirectly, this man is ... was ... his boss. I have attended this church often, and I listen to his sermons often -- his words almost always resonated with me.

People are angry and saddened, and sin, as it always does, is already doing its work -- dividing and taking sides and getting angry and requesting more information and wanting its way.

So many are hurt by this. Some are just on the periphery. But many are grieving intimate losses this week. Trust. Friendship. Faith. Devotion. Family.

This morning I stumbled upon an article entitled Portraits of Reconciliation.  It's the story of the Rwanda genocides and how, one encounter at a time, forgiveness is occurring. These are not small "moral failures." These are men who killed entire families. Men who looted and destroyed entire homes.

And these women are forgiving.

This story puts my own struggles to forgive in my life in perspective. There are a few moments from my past, I am sure we all have them, that stand out in my mind. An event that hurt me so deeply, I just can't seem to find the ability to completely let it go. Even if I say I forgive the person, if I am honest, I still have not.

But if Viviane (pictured above) can forgive a man who killed her father and brothers -- maybe we can all allow things to fall into perspective a little easier. Forgiveness is possible. It is never out of reach.

The Bible is full of instructions -- directives -- to forgive. Not just one but up to seventy-seven times (Matthew 18). "For if you forgive men they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6).

Praying for a community who is working to do just that today.


Melinda said...

Wendi...I read this article last week. Truly amazing. Haley had said basically the same thing after her two summers working with children in Rwanda. Their capacity to forgive, well, really their whole idea of forgiveness is so drastically different from ours. Haley tells a story of her first summer there, and she was actually teaching a VBS lesson on forgiveness. She was embarrassed by her examples when the children shared their own stories of forgiveness. We are blessed, aren't we? Thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

Dear Lord,

I am in anguish over this! As a man, I don't always know how I feel. It has taken me days to come to understand that I too am hurting.

Please minister to his wife. Give her strength and wisdom and courage. Help her to hear you and follow your direction. Please surround and comfort his children. Send messengers to walk them through the mental and social struggles they will now face. Help them! Help them! Help them!

I pray for the pastors and leadership of this church. They are called to tend the flock, and now must do so amid their own heartbreak. Please give them strength and comfort as they mourn the loss of their own mentor and friend and Pastor. Give them wisdom as they face difficult choices in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I pray for the sheep of this church. To the young Christians, help them to hold onto their faith and find Godly council as they process their emotions. Protect them from the enemy. Help them to understand what you have said in your Word about this tough subject. I pray for the older, more seasoned Christians. Give them the courage to step forward and lead by example. Help them to remain rooted in their faith and remember that before the dawn of time, you knew this would happen. Do not let us throw aside all we have learned because the messenger has fallen.

I pray for those who do not know Christ, where the enemy would use this as a tool to deter them from coming to know you. Please help us to represent you well as we process our own grief and mourn.

I lift up the man I can no longer call my pastor. There is shame, and hurt, and guilt. I know his road ahead is long and fraught with scrutiny from the church and world. Draw him close. He has so many relationships to manage and repair, but please help him to focus on his relationship with you. Heal him, help him and restore him to you. Show him a way forward and give him the strength to take it.

I pray that you would help me to come to terms with this incredible loss. I still don't fully appreciate how much of an impact his ministry has had, but the tears fall with or without understanding. Help me to learn from his testimony (story) as I have in the past. Help me to examine myself and slam shut the doors in my life that I have left open to the enemy. I choose to see you glorified and your name praised in this situation by how I respond to it.

In my life Lord, be glorified...today!


Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Melinda, that is what the story did for me. If they can forgive I must too ...

And to Anonymous, what a beautiful prayer ... all we can do is pray. And remember that we are ALL sinners.