Forgiveness: When Hope Dies

When Jesus dies so do the dreams of those who counted on Him. No Sabbath joy this week – just Sabbath sorrow. Blackness, bleakness, numbness, and tears. A dead body and dead hopes. A lifeless body and lifeless hearts.

Those dark hours make Jesus’ promises seem unreal. He’d told them He’d die; He’d told them they would weep – this they remember. But He’d also promised them He’d be raised; He’d promised they would see Him again; He’d promised their sorrow would be turned to joy – all this they seemingly forgot. ((Matthew 16:21, Mark 20:19, Luke 9:22, John 16:16-20). In those bleak hours between crucifixion and resurrection, the gospel texts record only their sorrow. There’s no hint that any of them remember Jesus’ promises and use them to connect with hope and help each other hope. Remembering might have given them hope. But there’s no mention of hope. Pain fills their awareness … and their hope dies.

How like us. We do the same. Pain’s presence effectively erases our memories as well; it’s intensity fills our awareness. We too forget the Lord’s promises and His power. Both seem unreal. And our hope dies.

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Forgiveness: Is There Any Other Way?

In Gethsemane’s garden, Jesus prays in agony: My Father, if this [cup] cannot pass away unless I drink it, your will be done (Matthew 26:42); Father,if it is possible, let this hour pass me by (Mark 14:35); Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done (Luke 22:42). Matthew, Mark, and Luke each pick up different nuances of Jesus’ cry to the Father. Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ active cooperation with His Father’s will: unless I drink it. Mark points us to Jesus’ longing for a less horrific solution to our alienation from God: Is there any other way, any other possibility? Luke makes clear the Father’s will: There is no other way. The Father’s words aren’t recorded for our ears, but Jesus hears them , surrenders., and continues His walk towards this necessary pain.

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Forgiveness: Sending Away Self-Protectiveness

Sending away hate and substituting love, while a difficult choice, nonetheless makes sense. But sending away self-protectiveness and substituting vulnerability? That seems not only dangerous but stupid.

You and I may be willing to send away hate and replace it with love. We may even be willing to send away vengeance (it does, after all, make us look bad). But when we even think about sending away self-protectiveness and becoming vulnerable most of us recoil. I’m thankful God doesn’t imitate our fearful avoidance. For, unlike most of us, God is willing to risk vulnerability. He demonstrated it most vividly on the cross.

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Forgiveness: What Forgiveness Is

We don’t discover what forgiveness is from looking at the people around us. Neither we nor our relatives, friends (or enemies, for that matter) do it as well as it should be done. Some people, of course, forgive better than others, but perfect forgiveness? We can only learn that from God. He shows us exactly what forgiveness is supposed to be … and wants us to imitate Him.

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Forgiveness: 3 More Myths

Many popular ideas about what it means to forgive don’t describe real forgiveness at all. Forgiveness myths abound. We identified (and, I hope, dismantled) five of these myths in last week’s post, 5 Forgiveness Myths. But 3 more myths remain: the idea that forgiveness is passive, the equally misleading idea that forgiveness is useless, and the assumption that forgiveness is optional. Let’s examine these last myths now, myths #6, #7, and #8.

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