Forgiveness: Healing the Hurt We Never Deserved
Sermon on Sunday, October 25, 2020
I have a friend named Frank. Frank and his family live inside a major city. Frank had lived in the same neighborhood since he was a child. The only time really that Frank was away from his home, was the two years he spent in Vietnam serving in the Army. The neighborhood where Frank and his family lived was located across from the beautiful City Park. The same park where Frank and his family spent countless days over the years enjoying picnics, and family activities. Frank was a devoted husband, father, honest and hard worker, hence a family man also a devoted Christian worker in the Kingdom. Yes, the neighborhood has changed since Frank was a youngster but Frank was insisting on staying in the home he was raised in, he had really nothing against anyone. The old neighbors have passed away or were part of the mass exodus from the inner city to the suburbs and people who were different from Frank and his family moved in. One day, Frank’s 10-year-old son, Tommy had his bike stolen. Tommy wanted look for his bike. He asked his mom if he could look in the park to search for his bike. His mother agreed but he wasn’t to wonder too far from home. Tommy agreed and said, “Ok Mom”! While Tommy was looking for his bike in the park, Tommy was attacked, severely beaten and then sexually molested. The police, Frank, and his wife frantically searched and found Tommy in the park. He was naked, beaten, and bruised; and rushed him to the hospital. Tommy lived and recovered from the physical wounds. Eventually, the police found the person who committed those heinous acts upon that little boy. Now Frank was consumed with hatred that was focused on an individual. Frank was always a jovial man at work. Always had a kind word for the next person. Always willing to help. Happy go lucky Frank wasn’t himself at work he was withdrawn and bitter. Wouldn’t talk to anyone. When someone tried to talk to him he would snap, “let me alone! Get away from me!” and they did. I walked into the lunch room one day there was Frank sitting alone at the table. Eating his sandwich staring at nothing in particular. I took my lunch-can and walked over to him and pulled out a chair to sit down. Frank looked at me with a face that shown pain, hatred, and sorrow. I said, “I just want to sit with you Frank, we don’t have to talk. Ok?” He looked away from me and went into his stare. Suddenly, Frank said, “Walt, I want to kill that man. I am wondering how I can get arrested, put into jail with him. I want to kill him so bad.” He looked at me with a look of determination, Walt I served in Viet Nam, I killed men before, I killed men up close, so close that I could smell their breath. That was war, this is different”. I want to kill that guy with my bare hands! What’s one more death on my soul?” I said nothing. I sat listening as Frank shared with me how he hated and despise the person who did this to his son. Frank hated with an overwhelming intensity we can only try to imagine. He clinched his fists, and said, “if only he could get to the person - he would kill him” Frank again vowed. The trial began; Frank took his vacation to be at the trial. I imagine while sitting in the courtroom Frank must have stared at the man like a lion stares at its prey! Frank had countless sleepless nights thinking of the heinous act and amassing an arsenal of hatred. Frank’s understandable hatred - was an obstacle that Frank placed between himself and God. God was willing to remove the obstacle and give Frank relief of the pain and utter agony he felt, but Frank would not allow this to happen. Bricks of pain were laid on the wall, bricks of shame, and bricks of hate. Creeping through the joints of the wall was mortared with the cancerous like malignancy of evil. Yes, the devil was undoubtedly laughing in delight at this tragedy. Frank was especially mad at God. I beg the question of you, “How would we ourselves feel if this would happen to our child, brother, or friend?” Probably the same way. We can only imagine and pray never to know! This once courageous solider of the war, family man this follower of Christ found himself in a prison of hatred and bitterness, got down on his knees and begged God to help him. Frank knew, Jesus alone as the way to eternal life and the way out of his prison! The Bible says that all who enter by him will find salvation, freedom, and spiritual nourishment. He must listen to Jesus exclusively. He knew Jesus was the way out of his bitterness. He could not continue to live in his prison of darkness, of hatred, bitterness, and the cold hardened unforgiving heart he carried around inside himself. The evil one has attacked and attacked well. In prayer and through God’s unbridled grace, a glimmer of light began to appear through a crack that in the prison wall as Frank began to focus on the gate of his self imposed prison, the prison of hatred the obstacle that Frank placed to separate himself from the Savior. The gate was always there, unlocked, in his circumstances he just never saw it. For Jesus was the gate. All he had to do was to get up and walk through the gate. One morning, Frank went to the prison to confront the evil that entered the life of his family. Frank talked to the person who attacked Tommy, looked into the man’s eyes and forgave the man! The final obstacle tumbled down the evil one was defeated in this spiritual battle. The gate of his prison swung open and he forgave the man. Frank walked through! Where does the power to forgive come from? Well for the answers in life we look to the Bible. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” We all have been hurt by someone in our life. Sometimes the pain is deep; we may have had it for so long it has become entrenched in our souls. How can we forgive? To Heal the Hurt We Never Deserved”. How can we let go of the pain? By turning to Christ. In His Word. In prayer. Today, Frank is a leader in a prison ministry proclaiming the Good News of our Risen Savior! Preaching in the darkness of the prisons. Preaching to a people who may have committed very similar crimes that had been perpetuated on his son. My brothers and sisters in Christ please hear me when I say forgiveness is a divine act. Forgiveness unlocks the spiritual prisons that our souls are in. I haven’t seen Frank in many years but I will never forget his example of forgiveness. How could Frank forgive? Not under his own strength, it was by the power of God. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” If Frank could forgive such an egregious attack on his son, how much more we can forgive those who we feel wronged us? Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Through Christ we can forgive then we too will be forgiven. A-Men.