The eulogy for this young man evoked sobs that echoed throughout the room. When a young man dies unexpectedly, shock brings unspeakable sorrow.
He and my son Joe grew up together and remained close friends. My Joe has been in the glory of heaven since 2002, and now his close friend joins him to share in the unimaginable paradise. They both played football, they both did mischievous things, they both had a contagious passion for life. And they both guaranteed their life eternal as they each invited Christ to be their Savior. Although as I write this, they are both in heaven with joy overflowing, the family still on earth wonders what to do with the tragedy that barged in.
And that’s understandable. All crises rattle our senses. All unexpected heartache changes the course of life. But all crises don’t need to be tragedies. Here are five insights that prevent crises from turning to tragedy:
1. Triumph comes when we choose to be victors rather than victims.
2. Blame gives power to pain.
3. Resentment repeats the aching of the wound.
4. Unforgiveness is the chain that keeps us bound.
5. Forgiveness is the choice that sets us free.
I embraced these insights in 2002 when my youngest son was murdered. The act was senseless. The heartache deep. The change unbearable. But the freedom real. The freedom that filled that first Christmas after losing our son came in a gift box called — forgiveness!
My husband I made that decision. What prompted us was an honest desire to obey God. This passage inMatthew 18 spoke to us personally:
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarius. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. That is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:23-35 NIV)
Let’s Pray: Father, I need the wisdom to keep forgiving. To keep remembering what you first forgave in me. To keep receiving your grace to forgive the unforgivable. In Jesus’ name, amen.
– What wound or heartache have you suffered?
– How will you resolve the pride that keeps you from forgiving?
– Are you living in the freedom of forgiveness?
Janet P. Eckles
If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet’scyberspace home for more inspiration.