'Forgiveness....Triumph Over Tragedy'
by Travis Wiginton
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The Amish Community has taught us a great Bible Blessing by teaching us....
the Triumph of Forgiveness...in the midst of a terrible tragedy!
Five of their precious children were killed in their one-room schoolhouse by a gunman who lived in the neighborhood.
The newspaper commented on the Amish:
"The hurt is great, but they don't balance the hurt with hate.
They are relying on their faith, just as they have done for centuries."
They are putting their faith to work as all Christians should.
Matthew 19:26 tells us that 'with man, things are impossible...
but with God all things are possible".
The Amish know that their children are going to Heaven.
They also are reaching out to the family of the gunman.
They commented that they hope his family will stay in the community....
for they will have friends and support there.
They believe that Judgment is in the hands of God.
Forgiveness is not only Divine...it is also healthy!
A twelve-year-study of families that were involved in terrible tragedies showed that the ability to forgive radically improved the subjects' emotional and psychological health.
Forgiveness is the most aggressive act of love that there is!
Jesus in the Lord's Prayer emphasizes forgiveness and....
even underlines it's importance by repeating:
'If you forgive the trespasses of others, God will forgive you.
But if you do NOT forgive, neither will God forgive you.'
(Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13)
It is impossible to deal with forgiveness....
without studying Jesus and His Words from the Cross.
Let us look at the agony and the ecstasy of The Cross.
(Matt. 27:33-56 and Luke 23:33-44)
1) JESUS' WORDS OF FORGIVENESS: (Luke 23:34)
'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do'.
Jesus was practicing what He had preached.
Now we must practice what His death and The Cross can mean in our lives!
In Matthew 18:21 Peter asked Jesus, "How often should we forgive...seven times?"
Jesus replied, "No, I say unto you, not seven times, but seven times seventy"
(or unlimited times).
We are not to judge others, but let God do the judging!
When we were saved, God forgave us in response to our repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Forgiveness is costly, for it cost God His Son to forgive us....
and it will cost our pride to forgive others, but it will be worth it!
2) JESUS' WORDS OF ASSURANCE TO THE REPENTANT AND BELIEVING THIEF:
Jesus said, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
The key word in the thief's confession was 'Lord'!
This is why I always say that we must not only accept Jesus as Savior, but also as Lord.
This thief had no opportunity to be baptized...
or be a member of a church...
or do 'good works'.
These are all 'follow-throughs' of a saved person.
At this time Jesus was all he needed and there will be times that Jesus is all WE need.
The other thief lost his last opportunity to be forgiven.
Let us not miss OUR opportunities to be forgiven...and forgiving!
3) JESUS' WORDS OF CARE CONCERNING HIS MOTHER: (John 19:27)
Jesus died as He had lived, always thinking about others...and their welfare.
So must we...as forgiveness is VERY important in all of our relationships.
Jesus in another place said, "Unto whom much is given, much shall be required."
These words concerning His Mother shows the agony that Jesus was going through,
but also shows how much He loved and cared, in the most painful part of His life.
Someone said, "Forgiveness is the scent that flowers give off when they are stepped on."
II Peter 5:7 speaks of 'cares and caring'....
"Cast all your cares upon Jesus for He cares for you."
If you cannot forgive, you had better not sin! (and we know that this is impossible)
If you say 'I can not forgive', claim the Promise:
"I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
4) JESUS' WORDS OF LONELINESS: (Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34)
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"
He bore our sins and felt the awfulness of sin.
"He Who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Cor. 5:21)
Without God's forgiveness, you will feel lonely and unrighteous.
Peter who experienced forgiveness from Jesus, says, "By His stripes we are healed"
(I Peter 2:24)
You may ask 'Did Jesus really feel the nails?'
In John 19:28, Jesus said, "I thirst" so He DID feel the nails....
because He had feelings to the end as He felt the weight of our sins.
5) JESUS' WORDS OF TRUST: (Luke 23:46)
"Father, into Thy Hands I commit my Spirit."
The key words here are 'Father' and 'commit'.
Jesus' life and death were total commitments to the Will of God.
I hope you have trusted God to forgive you...
so that you can be a 'channel of forgiveness' to others.
6) JESUS' WORDS OF VICTORY: (John 19:30)
"It is finished".....but we are not finished.
There will not be victory in our lives if we are not good at forgiving!
In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said of the Pharisees:
"You may do a lot of good things, but you have omitted the most important things of Mercy and Faith." (which includes forgiveness)
In light of the Cross and Christ's Words, this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(martyred by the Nazis in WWII) is pertinent.
"When God bids you to be His Disciple, He bids you 'come and die'."
A favorite Scripture of mine is Galatians 2:20-21: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh...
I live by faith of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Following are some good statements and Scriptures on God's Forgiveness....and our's.
1) You haven't forgiven....if you can not forgive yourself.
2) You have not reaped the benefits of a Forgiving Spirit if you doubt forgiveness.
"God will have compassion and will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."
"As far as the East is from the West, so far God has removed our transgressions from us!" (Psalms 103:12)
"I will blot out your sins and remember them against you NO MORE". (Isaiah 43:25)
Some may say, "I know that I'm forgiven, but I can not forget what I did."
Please remember that if God's Grace was sufficient to save you...
it is sufficient to FORGIVE and to FORGET. Let it work!
God releases us from a debt we could never pay...
and assures us of His continuing Love for us.
Don't believe it? Then read Psalmes 51......
Often we hear, "My prayers don't seem to get above the ceiling".
If so, you may be living in a state of 'un-forgiveness'.
Corrie ten Boom and her family were imprisoned by the Nazis in WWII.
After the war in 1947, she was speaking on the subject of 'Forgiveness'.
When she had finished speaking, a man whom she recognized as her prison guard,
came toward her.
"I froze" she said. "I knew what I ought to do...but could not.
I cried out to God, 'Lord I can NOT forgive him, but You can'."
By an act of her will, she found her hand in his hands....
my body became warm, spirit filled and a channel of God's Power."
While serving as missionaries in Korea, I made many trips out into the countryside.
Since this was not long after the war, things were not always 'sanitary' in some of the places where I stayed...and ate.
One time when I got back home, I had 9 boils on my body.
Eventually all healed except one on my face.
Our missionary Dr. had to perform surgery to get the poison out so that it could heal.
We must allow the Great Physician to operate on our unforgiving spirits for this spreads poison all over.
The heaviest burden one can bear is the burden of an unforgiving spirit.
There is no greater barrier to the work of the Holy Spirit and the joy of salvation in a person's soul, than to harbor the spirit of enmity, ill will and malice.
Nothing takes you further from Christ than such a spirit.
Nothing brings you nearer to Him than to 'forgive even as Christ has forgiven you'!
Remember 'as many as are led by the Holy Spirit, these are the Sons of God."
If God convicts you to forgive, please do so!
Hannah Moore said:
"If I had an enemy I wanted to punish, I would teach him to hate somebody."
We are forgiven by love....and we are to be forgiving with love!
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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Thank you for this most beautiful and truthful article Travis. Forgiveness is something that we really might not be able to feel at the time, but it is something that we MUST DO. God bless both you and La Moyne as you continue to bless US with your articles.