Learning to Forgive

Well, 9-11 caught me by surprise. I mentioned here last week that in the months and weeks leading up to 9-11, I wasn’t sure if it would be more of a media event or one that truly was on the minds and hearts of us all. I found out…it was a media event, but it was also very much on our minds and hearts!

The wounds are still there. For many they are healed or are healing…for some they still fester. We have not forgotten. It was clear to me from the depth of the reactions and comments I received, that 9-11 is still “in us.” And well it should be.

It was difficult to get a grasp on what to say about forgiveness on that day. There was Jesus, saying we must forgive to be forgiven. How? And what does forgiveness even mean in such a context?

I tried to say at least this: Forgiveness does NOT mean simply pretending a wrong never happened. We cannot, nor should we try to ignore 9-11 as part of our past. Forgiveness DOES mean at least releasing the offender from our anger, our bitterness, our desire for revenge. Because, to not forgive is like a poison or cancer eating us. As Ann Lamott puts it, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Traveling Mercies, p. 134)

Make no mistake, forgiveness is hard, hard work. But we’re called to get on with it. And we are not alone. In fact, I’m convinced that we can never forgive any kind of serious offense on our own. But God will help us…

This Sunday we check in again with the children of Israel on their journey out of slavery, through the wilderness. It was not easy. Some wanted to return to slavery. It is often difficult to leave the past behind and move on, but God was with them. We’ll see how God sustained them on their journey, and we’ll look at another of Jesus’ parables concerning God’s gracious provision for God’s people.

See You Sunday at the Grace Place,


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