As I heard the shocking news out of Aurora, Colorado today where a gunman killed twelve movie goers watching the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises my heart bled. What an appalling tragedy. Is it even possible to forgive such a horrific crime?
I’ve faced my own share of tragedy. My youngest son Jake died in a tragic car wreck in 1998 when my ex-husband was driving under the influence of narcotics. Forgiveness is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the only one keeps us free of the toxicity of bitterness. Still, we have to get to a place where the effects of bitterness are greater than the pain of releasing the offense.
My heart goes out to the victims of this horrible massacre. I know the grief and shock of the crime may cause many to postpone forgiveness, but I pray the families and loved ones will not allow the pain of the tragedy to take their own life as well. I know people who’ve carried unforgiveness for a lifetime, but it’s a poison that only destroys our own soul.
There are so many misconceptions about forgiveness. We don’t forgive to release the offender. We forgive to set ourselves free. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the other’s actions were acceptable, nor does it release the offender from the consequences of their actions or the legal obligation for restitution. We forgive out of obedience to God and so that the prison of bitterness doesn’t destroy our lives as well. We don’t need forgiveness if we’ve never suffered an offense, but when we accept God’s grace to forgive, he sets us free. The only one who belongs in prison is the gunman.
Do you need more help with forgiveness in your own life? Click below for your free copy of How to Forgive When Life Hurts.