RECENT events in the Middle East have made me think quite a lot about forgiveness and how important it is in any situation that needs healing. Sometimes events in our lives seem to escalate out of control. Anger, fear, frustration, a feeling of helplessness, take over. If we really want a healing outcome, it is at this point that we must do our utmost to forgive and to avoid hatred. To do this is to follow the standard Christ Jesus set for us. He was a good and honest man condemned to a shameful death by religious leaders who feared and envied him.
Yet on the cross he forgave them. Looking back on it now, knowing that he rose from the dead, we may take that act of forgiveness for granted. But if we pause for a moment to think of the hatred directed at Jesus in his final hours, we may gain a renewed respect for his ability and willingness to forgive.
The courage of that forgiveness is outstanding, and events that followed -- the resurrection, the bold preaching of the gospel by the apostles -- proved that to follow Christ Jesus' example is to be anything but passive. We do, however, need to take time to pray before we act.
Not too long ago, I was confronted with three different situations where people were not doing things they had promised to do. My first reaction was to want to browbeat them into doing the work. Because experience has taught me that prayer should precede action, however, I stopped and prayed before doing anything. It became quite clear that anger could not be part of God's plan. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Whosoever believeth that wrath is righteous or that divinity is appeased by human suffering, does not understand God.''1
Since God is Spirit and has made man in His likeness, I knew that in truth I was spiritual. The feelings I was having, however, were anything but the pure, loving, joyful qualities of Spirit. After a considerable mental struggle, I was able to overcome the feelings of anger and frustration. Not long after this I learned that the delays were completely justified. How grateful I was that I had not acted in anger.
The temptation to indulge in anger, revenge, hatred, is one that may come to each of us, whether we are reacting to occurrences in our personal lives or to world events that seem to be out of control. We disarm anger by praying to feel the presence of Christ, the true idea of God. This will show us our true spiritual nature and will give us the peace and discernment that we need.
The Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians gives the stark contrast between the world's methods of warfare and the Christian's. He writes: ``For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.''2
The ``obedience of Christ'' is a high standard to follow. But we can begin in small ways by loving more, by forgiving more quickly, by endeavoring to express more of our joy as God's offspring, and by praying daily for our world. If we are actively seeking to follow the Christly path, we will find a way through the turmoil to peace and forgiveness.
1Science and Health, p. 22. 2II Corinthians 10:3-5