There’s something about “extraordinary forgiveness” that touches even the most hardened soul. It’s one thing to hear that ole Joe forgave Bert for taking his parking space at the VFW hall….” I forgive you Bert, but don’t let it happen again”. It’s quite another to hear much more serious acts of forgiveness.
My son Pete sent me an article on Monty Williams, the coach of the Phoenix Suns. “In 2016, at age 44, his wife Ingrid was killed when her car was hit head on in Oklahoma, leaving behind her husband Monty and the couple’s five children, aged between 5 and 17.” At the funeral, in the midst of devastating sorrow, Williams said “Let us not forget there were two people in this situation, and that family needs prayer as well,” (The driver, who lost control of her SUV and hit Ingrid Williams, was also killed.) …. “we have no ill will towards that family. In my house we have a sign that says, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ We can not serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.” An extraordinary act of forgiveness in the midst of intense sorrow.
You may recall that back in 2006 there was a mass shooting of children in an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster, PA…a terrible tragedy with 5 young girls dying before the gunman committed suicide. The emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the Amish community’s response was widely discussed in the national media. ….. “Amish community members visited and comforted the killer’s widow, parents, and parents-in-law. One Amish man held Roberts’ sobbing father in his arms, reportedly for as long as an hour, to comfort him. The Amish have also set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter.” Extraordinary acts of forgiveness in the midst of intense sorrow.
We recently heard readings from the book of Genesis about Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers…a horrible sentence of suffering and betrayal. Yet Joseph ultimately forgave and restored his brothers and their family… ultimately saving the entire nation of Israel. “ As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen. 50:20) An extraordinary act of forgiveness in the midst of betrayal.
This level of forgiveness should touch each of us in the depth of our soul. It’s extraordinary. Only the love of God can ultimately motivate someone to forgive at this level. How can we not be touched when we hear these stories.
Jeff Van Gundy, Monty William’s former coach and now an announcer, says “I still get emotional, recalling the funeral service for Ingrid Williams; I can’t get that day out of my head. …. he’s a man of great faith — it was apparent when he gave one of the greatest, most graceful speeches at the service,” …. I remember watching his children. They were amazing. I think he’s an amazing man. I learned from him. I watch him.’’ (NY Post, July 5, 2021)
All of these extraordinary acts of forgiveness stem from God…they are Godly acts. Christ is the ultimate model of extraordinary acts of forgiveness portrayed perfectly from his sacrifice of love… I forgive you…your sins are forgiven.
And that is very good news.