POCKET DE­VO­TIONAL

For­give them too?

The Covington News - - Religion -

“For­give us our debts, as we also have for­given our debtors” (Matthew 6: 12).

I re­mem­ber ex­actly where I was. I was in a kinder­garten teacher meet­ing when the school sec­re­tary burst into the room. We raced to the TV in the con­fer­ence room. I trem­bled as I watched the events be­fore my eyes. “Oh, my God,” I whis­pered. “Oh, Lord God, what is hap­pen­ing?”

Yes­ter­day was Patriot’s Day, the sev­enth an­niver­sary of 9/11. It has been so dif­fi­cult for so many. Every­one seems to know some­one af­fected. There has been so much loss. Fam­i­lies lost loved ones. Scores of friends were never seen again. Count­less res­cue work­ers gave their lives. As a coun­try, we mourned our in­no­cence and se­cu­rity. Rage to­ward a face­less en­emy gave many of us night­mares, headaches, ill­nesses and de­pres­sion. Jobs were lost, re­la­tion­ships were strained and some peo­ple never re­turned to “nor­mal.” Peo­ple pointed fin­gers. Ev­ery­thing and every­one was ques­tioned.

Tears still run when I see im­ages from that aw­ful day. Fear, shock and help­less­ness are still felt to­day. Across the world, there were many who couldn’t shield them­selves from the ef­fects when they turned off their TV. When search and res­cue teams came, a new wave of sad­ness rushed in. I kept check­ing the ma­jor net­works and news­pa­pers, cer­tain hun­dreds were safe.

Those closer to the loss waited in long lines and searched Web sites for any word that their loved ones were all right. When they didn’t hear, they mourned all over again.

We clung to each other and prayed. When the first air­plane flew near our play­ground af­ter­ward, I felt nau­se­ated un­til it passed.

Now, I could eas­ily list all of the won­der­ful things that came from this day. Many peo­ple came to­gether and re­newed their faith in God. Flags were flown, and stars and stripes ap­peared ev­ery­where. We wore ev­ery­thing pa­tri­otic that we could. Songs played, flags cov­ered sports are­nas and me­dia re­porters fed us daily up­dates about won­der­ful peo­ple show­ing kind­nesses.

But, the pain is still deep. I keep feel­ing the sense that I need to re­ally fo­cus on the for­give­ness as­pect of the Lord’s Prayer. I learned to say this part, “for­give us our tres­passes as we for­give those who tres­pass against us.” Lord, the peo­ple who are re­spon­si­ble def­i­nitely tres­passed. How in the world can I for­give them? Th­ese bad guys are still out there. I have not seen any CNN re­ports that have an­nounced any­one con­fess­ing. I’m not ready to think about for­give­ness. It’s just too hard.

And then, an idea comes to mind: I will for­given by the same mea­sure that I have for­given oth­ers. In the Lord’s Prayer, Je­sus did not say, “for­give them if they agree to turn them­selves in.”

So, this is what I will try. I will ask God to help me for­give those in­volved in any of the at­tacks. This is how we rec­on­cile in kinder­garten. Here’s a typ­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two of my stu­dents: “Abby, I’m sorry that I broke your crayons,” says Maria. “It’s OK, Abby, I for­give you. But, don’t do it again.”

I can’t ex­pect the “bad guys” to leave us in peace. But in my prayer, I can start try­ing to for­give them. It is a hard thing to do, but if I want to be like Je­sus, I have to start some­where. “Dear Lord, You know my heart. You know the pain, fear, rage and con­fu­sion in­side so many of us. Please, help us learn how to for­give. Con­tinue to draw us closer to you. Amen.”

Lisa Het­zel may be reached at lisa.@lisa­het­zel.com.

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