30 days of forgiveness
“Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.“
Psalm 29:1 (ESV)
Forgiveness doesn’t come from me simply because I want to bestow it. In order for me to forgive anyone or anything I must first have experienced forgiveness. I can’t give what I don’t have.
The brand of forgiveness I’ve known generally has had strings attached. “I’ll forgive you when …” or “I’ll forgive you if …”
I ascribe or credit the ability to forgive only to Jesus because he forgave me first.
If you find it difficult at best to forgive those who royally screwed you then gleefully told the whole world about how good it felt when they did, then try wrapping your brain around this fact: While He was on the cross, he showed me how to forgive my haters.
The pain of crucifixion* (not for the squeamish)
Jesus hung in pain and agony, bleeding from head to toe. Large splinters poking deep into his back, the same back that suffered 40 lashes, had flesh torn with a cat of nine tails and bruises from carrying that heavy cross to Calvary.
Ever hit your hand with a hammer because you missed the nail? A square, wrought-iron nail was plunged through Jesus’ wrists that had to bear the weight of his body.
Have you ever dropped a block of frozen ice on your foot? When Jesus was being attached to his cross, the left foot was pressed backward against the right foot and extended, toes down as another square, wrought-iron nail was driven through both arches.
As the cross was raised Jesus pushed himself upward to avoid the stretching torment in his wrists. All this as the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves of both feet coursed through his body.
Ever had a muscle cramp? Imagine great waves of cramps sweeping all over his body in deep, relentless throbbing pain.
It takes air to speak words. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs but cannot be exhaled. Jesus has to fight to raise himself in order to get even one short breath. Spasmodically, He pushed himself upward to exhale and speak.
Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as He moves up and down the rough, splinter-filled timber.
Then he remembers us and says to our Heavenly Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” What? He’s in pain unspeakable from head to toe, each breath more difficult than the last drawing him closer to death and what does he do? He remembers us who sent him to the cross and begs his Big Daddy to forgive us. Really?
I choose radical forgiveness
Are you kidding me? My flesh would be cursing the ground my haters walk on. Nevertheless, one fact remains: forgiveness comes only from Jesus. If I’m to walk as he walked then I’m to forgive as he forgave.
Points to ponder
How much pain have you endured because of someone else? Is it as much pain as hanging on a cross? If not, then what is keeping you from forgiving those who hurt you?
* “The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” by C. Truman Davis, M.S., March 1965.