Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
C. S. Lewis once said, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have to do it.” Forgiveness is a word that is commonly used around churches. It touches us every day and in various ways. More often than not we deal with such small offenses that forgiveness should never present a huge problem.
Usually it is just that someone has hurt our feelings, scolded our children, or taken our seat at church. Possibly a former friend told a lie about us and it stings deeply. Regardless of the offense, forgiveness is not the preferred response. We desire to hurt those who hurt us in equal manner. Somehow we manage to get through the hurtful experiences without too much damage to our egos, our families or our churches.
But what happens when the offense is so great that forgiveness seems impossible?
Some years ago CBS aired a movie entitled “Nightmare in Columbia County” which was based on a true story. A young lady named Sharon (Shari) Smith was abducted from her car while stopped at the mailbox in front of her home. She was 17 and preparing for her upcoming class trip to the Bahamas. Her father, pastor of a nearby church, saw her car at the end of the drive from his home-office window. She never made the 700 feet to her family. Two days after the abduction the kidnapper called Shari’s home and spoke with her mother. He identified clothing she was wearing to verify his role as the real abductor.
During the period of the abduction, several phone calls were made to Mrs. Smith and then to Shari’s sister. The intent was apparently to inflict pain upon the Shari’s mother and sister. He stated he had sent a letter to the family that would arrive shortly. Police authorities intercepted the envelope which turned out to be a goodbye letter from Shari. She was urging them not to let the incident ruin their lives while stating her love for the family, even though she seemed to know death was near. When Shari was found, she had been killed by the kidnapper shortly after the incident began. The torment this criminal spued upon the family of Shari is all but unfathomable. Can we forgive such an egregious act as this?
Thankfully most of us will never have to deal with situations like this. Forgiveness extended to such an individual is impossible without the help of our Lord who forgave us of all our ungodly sins. No wonder our Lord taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”