My mind still can't comprehend all that the dear people involved with Virginia Tech are going through this week, even after watching the coverage all day yesterday. It's just not anything that you can really relate to, here in the United States... thank God. The tragedy surmounted any that have taken place before now and I think it could be safely said that this was a truly heinous act of a very troubled person. But, with all the hard feelings resulting from this troubling day, I challenge you. Heed the words in Luke 6:27-38. "...Love your enemies! ... Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Forgive others and you will be forgiven..." It's so easy to get caught up in the finger-pointing and imposing of hind-sight on those who "could've done something!" But, in all of this we're letting the hatred win. In Romans 12:21, we are reminded "Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."
I realize, it's easy for me to say... I don't have a loved one who was there that day. However, I think we could learn a lot from the 27 Amish gentlemen who attended the funeral of the man who assaulted and killed their innocent young girls.
And once again, I think of amazing Immaculee Ilibagiza... the survivor of the Rowandan Genocide whose family was slaughtered at the hands of her own neighbors and acquaintances. Overcome by thoughts of hate and overwhelming loss, she finally one night hit her knees and cried out "Forgive my evil thoughts, God. Please... as You always have, take this pain from me and cleanse my heart. Fill me with the power of Your love and forgiveness. Those who did these horrible things are still your children, so let me help them, and help me to forgive them. Oh, God, help me to love them."
You know, just months later, she returned back to her homeland, utterly destroyed by the genocide that took place and she actually found it in her (with the Lord's help) to face her family's seemingly heartless murderers. And instead of rage and anger... surprisingly, she found only pity and his undeniable sense of shame. When the time came, she "reached out, touched his hands lightly, and quietly said what she had come to say 'I forgive you'. Her heart eased immediately, and she saw the tension release from the captured killer..." Later, when questioned by the confused and obviously irritated soldier, “What was that all about? That was the man who murdered your family. I brought you to question… to spit on if you wanted to. But you forgave him! How could you do that? Why did you forgive him?” Immaculee simply answered with truth: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.”
We may not understand. We may not want to forgive. But, in not doing so we are only fueling the hate and hurting ourselves. Sometimes, forgiveness may be the only thing we have to offer… but I think we owe it to ourselves not to let the evil win… and even to the child of God who, somehow, somewhere got so far off-track and consumed by evil, he just could not find his way back. The killer, in this case took his own life... but I think we still need to remember him and his family in our prayers along with the others who are suffering unfathomable loss tonight.
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day
Our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever and Ever