13 April 2014
Jesus on the cross: Reflection 1
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23 v 34)
by Jonathan Oloyede
Some years ago someone close to me did something that really hurt. Oh it really really hurt! It took me awhile to recover because it was someone dear to my heart. It was lots of prayer and dialogue with God that helped separate my memory and feelings from my will and decision to forgive.
Herein lies the crux of the matter for many people caught in a vice of hurt, bitterness and anger. How do you forgive someone when you still feel so much pain? It all sounds so nice, cute and easy when the preacher says "forgive others as God forgave you." I believe a lot of people confuse the feelings of hurt, anguish and recurring mental flashbacks with thinking they have not forgiven.
When I was very young and growing up in Africa, I hurt my shin on a broken bottle. My mum was a nurse and she would use scalding hot water on any of her kids to sanitise our cuts and bruises before bandaging us up. I think she also used the hot water to secretly punish us for our frequent cuts.
I decided to hide my wound rather than go through mum's 'Guantanamo' treatment. Needless to say, two weeks later I was limping from pain and secondary infection and had to be taken to hospital for treatment. You can imagine the backlash from my parents. So much that I can still remember it years later to write it in this article.
Unforgiveness is like an untreated wound. It catches an infection which spreads and affects other parts of the body.
The process of forgiveness is the equivalent of exposing the wound for treatment early so that the body can heal itself naturally. The curious thing is that pain is a companion to healing. It is not an enemy. The decision to forgive is the most important thing. The Lord is our physician and he binds up our hurts and wounds.
So let us follow the example of Jesus when he spoke the title of this blog on the cross. I guarantee you he said that with a winch. May we find the strength from God to DECIDE to let go of the hurt from those who have wounded, abused, maligned or betrayed us...even in pain.
keep forgiving as Jesus did.
Dr Jonathan Oloyede is convenor of the National Day of Prayer and Worship and team leader of City Chapel, London