It’s not too often the Shine4Him Photo blog ventures into social commentary, but I think this week’s photo deserves it (phrases taken from Exodus 3:5 and Psalm 100:4, painted on a church wall in India). So does the recent happenings in Aurora, CO in the USA.
In the week following this tragedy, there have been many stories emerge of heroism, sacrifice, and love. Tragedies tend to bring out the deepest emotions and people’s true selves. Anyone can claim what they think they would do in a situation, but we never know for sure until something forces us to act without thinking. That’s what the men who died saving their girlfriends were doing. Somewhere, they learned that was the noble thing to do, and when the moment came, they acted. Now the world is grateful, even through many tears.
Then there is Pierce O’Farrill, one of the other victims of the shooting. Despite having been shot three times, the moment he was released from the hospital, he told the press that he had forgiven the shooter. Again, this goes against the grain of what seems normal. No one blames the families who are angry at Holmes. I doubt few would be upset when justice is served. But what about this guy?
Forgiveness, in itself, is very freeing. For years, research has proven that bitterness only tears apart the person who carries it, and forgiveness allows the person to give up the “victim” title and move on with their lives. Personally, I hope everyone involved can eventually come to that point, though it will likely take years. And please note that forgiveness is not exoneration. I’m sure even O’Farrill would agree that the courts need to do their job. But this immediate forgiveness, and even a willingness to talk to and pray for the shooter? Now that’s something different.
O’Farrill links his actions to his faith in Jesus Christ. It takes more than just being a good person to forgive like that, I’ve found. It takes power beyond ourselves. But through the years, many have discovered the power that Jesus provides to forgive those who hurt them. Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom also had to lean on her faith to forgive the man who tortured her and her sister. But both of these people have made the same amazing discovery – that forgiveness gives us a glimpse of the true nature of God, and in that, we can be thankful.
Have you ever struggled to forgive someone who hurt you? Where do you find the strength to move on?
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 7.0 • 1/220 sec
This week’s picture reminded me of the journey we are all on. Life can take us through both good times and hard times, and both are needed to grow. Several months ago, I wrote a post about the goodness of God in natural disasters. What about when the struggles are personal? Is He there for us then as well?
This past week included some of the hardest moments I’ve had in years. I spent hours begging God for answers, getting upset at His silence, or waiting quietly in expectation. Finally, despite my frustration, I took time to worship. I’m a music freak, so for me that means cranking up the volume to 11 and dancing. I barely made it through the first song before I was at His feet, crying. I saw that in my time of struggle, I had simply forgotten who He was.
“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”
(Psalm 146:7-9 & 147:3-4 NIV)
God does all these things, but not always on our schedule. Sometimes His healing takes time, and sometimes His justice comes to the world when we are not there to see it. Other times, He just holds us close and lets the pain help build character in our lives. IMHO, brokenness sucks. Yet sometimes I need to remember that Jesus went through the same things – willingly! – in order to be there for me when I’m hurting. Not only that, but He promises to use it for something good… someday.
What pain are you going through right now? Can you see God working through it?