(This was my script for Pause For Thought on BBC Radio 2 on September 22, 2023... The theme was Being Forgiven...)
Forgiveness. In my world it seems to be a word to debate and keep at arms length; Talked about much more than it is actually done.
I am involved in the planning of the 4 Corners Festival in Belfast and a few years ago we had a theme Scandalous Forgiveness. Before the Festival so many people asked us if we couldn’t change the Forgiveness word.
Forgiveness is not easy. It is no small thing to let go of the need for justice and desire for vengeance and simply wipe the slate clean.
When talking about forgiveness, Jesus told a story about a King who was dealing with those indebted to him. A servant owed him a ginormous amount of money but the King took pity on the man and his wife and children and rote off the debt. Then the relieved servant, on the way home, met someone who owed him a pittance but he demanded to be paid.
This is something like how I experience forgiveness. It seems to me that many of us would love to know that God forgives us but we are not so keen to forgive. We cannot let people off with it. It is too soft. Forgiveness is hard to do.
It is and that is why when I am in situation where I am receiving forgiveness, which I have to say doesn’t seem to be as often as I need to ask for it, I always think of the forgiver.
I respect their courage. I admire their grace. I am inspired by the humility of heart that has given up the temptation to get their vengeance by letting it go.
I feel blessed to know such a human being. I feel blessed that relationships are restored. I also pray that I will have the same humility and grace towards those who have hurt me.