Suffering, Grace, and Forgiveness

At first they just mocked him and spoke poorly about him, but after a while, they did everything in their power to put him to death. It started with jeering, mocking, and hateful speech. And instead of getting a response of anger, their actions were met with patience and grace. When they didn’t get the reaction they wanted, they did everything in their power to put hands on him and accuse him of blasphemy. When they finally got what they wanted, their jeers and mocking escalated to punching and physical violence. Still not getting the reaction they wanted, they cried for him to be put to death. 

They took him before the heads of government and demanded they condemn him to death. In fact, they demanded that a murderer be released and this man take his place. In hope to save a man who the heads of government found no guilt and to appease the mob seeking his death, they sentenced him to public flogging. He was whipped 39 times with a cat o‘ nine tails. The man took his lashings without cursing the mob or the people performing the act. 

After his 39 lashings, the mob wanted more. The heads of government finally relented and acquiesced to the mob’s cries for death. At this point, the man is bleeding profusely. He is tired and in and out of consciousness due to blood loss. The mob demands that the man carry his own death sentence on his back. The death sentence weighed about 165 pounds. The man barely made it 2000 feet before his body couldn’t go on. The officers in charge of carrying out this death sentence pulled a bystander out of the crowd to carry the man’s death sentence the remaining 3280 feet. During this whole time, this man is silent, never cursing or yelling out against his inhumane treatment. He is not seeking safety for himself, neither is he trying to escape his suffering. 

When they reached the destination for the execution to be performed, the bystander dropped the man’s death sentence to the ground, the officers took the bleeding and barely conscious man and threw him onto his death sentence. They stretched out his arms on each side and drove nine inch, square nails through his wrists. Then they took his feet and drove the same nails through his ankles. When all the nailing was complete, they hoisted the man’s death sentence into the air and dropped into a three foot hole. 

Once the death sentence was in place, the mob continued their jeers and mocking. They told him to save himself as he was bleeding out on his death sentence. They yelled, cursed, and verbally assaulted the man as he was taking his final breaths. Throughout all this, the man looked down from his death sentence and said, “Forgive them. For they do not know what they do.” In the midst of his suffering, he did not see anger. He did not seek retaliation. He acknowledged the people’s selfishness and anger filled blindness. He saw them as a people in need of redemption. He poured himself out and gave grace and forgiveness. 

People are bent on doing what is wrong and what is evil. This started when we, humanity, ignored and disobeyed the Living God’s command to follow and listen to Him. We decided that our way was better than the Creator’s way, and we chose to follow after our own selfish desires. After millenia of seeking selfish passions and desires, our hearts have become hardened toward the Creator God. This hardness of heart has turned humanity into a bent and broken people whose passions seek only selfish will and intent, and, at many times, will do whatever it takes to get what they want. 

Not only does humanity suffer from the veil of selfishness, we also suffer from the veil of hate. This hate that burns inside us has created a people who have little to no care for others. They are fixed on themselves and care very little about their own fellow man. Both veils have something in common; they are exactly the opposite of what the Creator of the World desires for us. These veils are the reason we have so much suffering in our world. It’s also because of these veils that we do not know how to give grace and forgiveness to each other.

Because of the veils previously mentioned, humanity has a hard time seeing past themselves. This blindness keeps us from seeing each other as broken people in need of redemption. These veils also keep us from understanding what true forgiveness really looks like. Because of this, when we suffer, we take it personally, and our reaction is to seek retaliation; the direct opposite of grace and forgiveness. Please don’t misunderstand me. I know there are people in this world who know, understand, and show true grace and forgiveness, but it is a rare commodity. Humanity is bent to seek retaliation before we give grace and forgiveness, because we have a hard time seeing past ourselves. 

I write this knowing that I too struggle with the thought of giving pure and true grace and forgiveness to those who offend or hurt me. I struggle with the desire to retaliate and wanting justice. The thought of anyone doing something to myself or my family makes my blood boil. My initial desire is to see justice served. I would want my suffering to be avenged. However, my desires for vengeance and justice would produce nothing good. This is the true definition of “Turn the other cheek.” 

We need to rip off the veils of selfishness and hate and see others for who we all are; broken people in need of redemption. This is not going to be easy, as we have been conditioned to seek selfish intent. We must look to the one who showed us what true grace and forgiveness looks like. We must stop thinking that our way is the best way and begin seeking the Way of the Creator God. We need to learn how to “turn the other cheek” and give grace and forgiveness; just as it has been given to us.

As always, stay humble and serve well! 

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