FROM BOB: The following blog post was written by my former wife. She will be in Tampa, Florida next week teaching a conference on Forgiveness. She knows a lot about the subject. I hope many show up and listen carefully to her.
FORGIVENESS, by Rita Bevington
In the film Under the Tuscan Sun, actor Diane Lane comments, “The most surprising thing about divorce is that is doesn’t kill you instantly like a head-on car crash, because it should. Instead, we are left trying to process the impact and cope with the painful aftermath.”
I think there are few things in life more devastating than finding out that someone I once loved could become the object of my hatred. Someone I thought was my friend could become my enemy. Trust is shattered. Betrayal destroys relationship. Faith is questioned. The covenant is broken. A life built becomes the focus of a battle to dismantle. I experienced the pain, anger, and resentment of betrayal and divorce, along with it’s never ending repercussions. David describes this condition in Psalm 55: 12-14:
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend. We who had sweet fellowship together, walked in the house of God in the throng.
Who can we turn to when the one who betrays us is our spouse, relative, or close friend? Ultimately, our sinless heavenly Father is the only One who will never sin against us. He will not betray, abandon, or reject us. By contrast, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
All human beings are terminal sinners—including me. I will sin against those I love. I will fail those I love. I will be failed by those who love me. I will be betrayed. I will have pain that results from simply being in relationship with others.
Jesus himself faced betrayal. All of his closest friends deserted him at end of his life. One betrayed him, with a kiss. Sound familiar? Jesus experienced the complete range of human suffering. He has been there, done that, and he has the T-shirt. He has lived through the range of human emotions and pain, yet without sin. He is no stranger to suffering and brokenness. Jesus went to the cross to die, not only for my sins, but also for those who sin against me. And I am called to extend the forgiveness of Christ to others.
God only had to speak to bring the world into existence, but He had to die to bring the world into forgiveness—into salvation—into a restored relationship.
Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness requires sacrifice on my part, a death of my sense of justice, willingness on my part to accept pain and release pain.
The single greatest truth that has helped me learn the freedom of forgiving, is the fact that this is not the world I was created for and that is why it and its people fail to fill me up. I am created for a heavenly home. When I get there, then I will experience what my soul deeply longs for. Until then, I can forgive others as Christ has forgiven me.