They were brought up by a mother who worked long hours to ensure they ate well. In the evenings after a hard day at work, she pushed them to do their homework and taught them to believe in themselves. You see, their dad had abandoned her when they were young. He just took off one day and went to live with a younger woman. He never visited them. Singlehandedly and painstakingly, mum had brought them up and now they are all successful professionals.
That’s why it seemed like poetic justice when they heard that their dad was now jobless, broke and sick in hospital, abandoned by the other woman. Their thought was “it serves him right”! But guess what their mum did? She left everything in Nairobi and went where he was. There, she used her retirement money to pay the hospital bills and spent the next couple of years nursing and caring for him until he passed away.
As my friend shared about his family, I thought, “How unfair is that?” It sounded completely warped to me that the one who was wronged against would end up being the one who paid to fix things up. Either there was something really messed up about this woman, or there was something extremely good and right. When I met her some time later, I confirmed it was the latter. She is confident, attractive and likeable, with a kind heart and strong faith. There was not a trace of bitterness in her voice as she spoke about her husband. I greatly admired her strength and selflessness.
In many ways, she reminded me of the Easter story. You see, at the cross, God took on the pain of the very people who had wronged Him. Instead of demanding that humans pay for what we had done, He paid with His own life. He took the consequences of our rebellion on Himself, creating the possibility of our going back to Him, and living the life that He originally created us for.
Yep, either very messed up or extremely good and right! As the good book says “by His wounds, we are healed”. Easter brings the possibility of healing from rejection, abuse and pain. Because of the cross, those painful memories that have scarred us in the past can become stories of hope and inspiration. Because of what God did, we can forgive those who have wronged us. And by doing so, we free ourselves from the spiral of bitterness and revenge.
Mohandas Gandhi rightly put it: “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
This Easter, I pray that you will find the grace to treat those who have wronged you the way God treated you. And that in forgiveness you will not only find freedom from bitterness, but strength to live the life you were created for.
Pastor M is a leadership coach, author and the senior pastor at Mavuno Church. Follow him on twitter @muriithiw or like his Facebook page, ‘Pastor_ M’