by Sam Ashoo
During this week of Lent I will unfold a true story of a wounded friend. If you have not yet read my previous blog post, please start there.
We know of God’s righteous anger. Romans 12:19 tells us 'Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.’ Indeed we know that our Lord can be angered and in that moment I felt it. An anger that was consuming. If such sin is allowed in creation, surely there is justice for it. Surely there are repercussions for such acts. I was already aware of the sin in the world, but this sin was here, in my home, on my couch, having wounded my friend. I yearned for confrontation. I daydreamed about conversations with this person and I replayed them in my mind, time and again. It became a new obsession. As time passed, I grew tired and forgot, but only briefly. Each time, a new reminder occurred and I was propelled back to a state of anger. Was this a righteous anger? What was supposed to be my response to sin? A sin of commission. Where is the justice for my friend and all that this sin has wreaked in his life?
These questions haunted me and extracted a price. They consumed my time, they dwelled within me, distracted me, and separated me from the only source that is capable of facing them: my Lord. But releasing them required a forgiveness that I was not capable of on my own. The kind of overwhelming love that breaks through the wall of pain (even that of a suffering friend), and brings healing to me, to my friend, and to the perpetrator. The kind of love that comforts me and says justice is the Lord’s and not for me to extract. The kind of love that asks me to set aside the pursuit of justice in this life, and focus on forgiveness. But why?
The haunting, the pain, the continued mental anguish of knowing what was done, what was taken, and what could have been…all bound me. I carried that yearning for justice like a 200 pound weight on my shoulders. It wasn’t until I began to think about forgiveness that I saw what God was willing to do. He could carry the burden. He would walk alongside and become my shield against the anguish and pain and provide a method for me to be liberated. It is through my God that forgiveness was not only possible, but required in order to live fully into this creation and the next. I had to acknowledge the source of the sin, and the weight it left on my shoulders.