Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A story of forgiveness

According to new research from the University of California in San Diego, people who forgive those who hurt them are less likely to suffer high blood pressure, with increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Well, the Bible's been teaching that for years. Unforgiveness leads to resentment, and resentment leads to bitterness. Unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness are like acid in your soul. They eat you up inside.

Whenever there's a major disaster, there's often a Christian or two involved. When a young man started shooting during the showing of a Batman film at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, the other week, 70 people were hit. Twelve died; 58 were wounded.

Some remarkable stories came out of the incident. Few more so than the story of Pierce O'Farrill, a young man interviewed from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from multiple gunshot wounds.

People were surprised to hear that he had forgiven the gunman.

"There is an evil in this world, and there is a darkness," he told one news outlet. "There is an enemy, but the wonderful news is there is a Light, and there is a Light that shines brighter than the darkness."

Of the gunman, he said "This is going to be hard for some people to understand, but I feel sorry for him when I think what that soul must be like to have that much hatred and that much anger in his heart - what every day must be like. I can't imagine getting out of bed every morning and having that much anger and hatred for people that he undoubtedly has. I'm not angry at him. I'll pray for him."

Said Ryan Heller, Pierce's pastor at a Baptist Church in Aurora, "Pierce believes God had him in the theatre for a reason. For him to say that [he forgives] moves me every time I think about it." Pierce, he  believed, had prompted a national debate on forgiveness.

So, Pierce forgave the gunman who shot him for no apparent reason. Will you forgive those who have hurt you? Don't say that you can't. You may not feel like forgiving. You may not feel able to forgive. But forgiving doesn't have to do with feelings; it's a decision. Decide you're going to forgive. When you think of the people concerned, pray for them. Turn your feelings into prayers. Take the decision and your feelings will follow.

Remember, when you forgive, it's not just to do with them. It's setting yourself free.