A very troubled woman was pouring out her heart about her past experiences with abuse and her troubled relationship with her son. Sitting on the red plaid couch in the counselor’s office, crying, lamenting, even cursing, she made her point. She had experienced traumatic emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of her father and mother. She had been deeply wounded.
“I can’t believe they did that to me! I would never be so unkind and unfair. Don’t they see how much they hurt me?”
As she talked about it, the counselor asked her some quietly-probing questions. “Tell me more. Can you help me understand what you felt then. Did you turn to God for help? What do you think your Father wanted from you during those troubling times?”
She was soon calm. Her breathing slowed. Her anxiety faded. Her anger ebbed away. Her defences – of which she wasn’t even fully aware – lowered.
“Tell me about your son. What is he like? How is your relationship with him?” Then the clincher, still gently and with great love: “Isn’t that like what you experienced?”
She sat in stunned silence. The very thing she had sworn never to do she was doing to her own son. She began to cry. She had been undone. Her brokenness had been exposed. She could no longer harbor resentment and anger toward her parents if she was to ask for healing grace from God. She had to see her own sin before she could forgive her parents. Forgiveness comes from forgiven people. Ultimately from the sinless One, our Lord Jesus Christ.
They say hurting people hurt people. Broken people break people. Whether or not all forgiven people forgive people, we cannot say. But only forgiven people can forgive people. We can never do it on our own. Forgiveness is fueled from forgiveness received.
There is a chasm into which I have looked on occasion. It is deeper than the deepest sea, full of doom, destruction, and damnation. In those moments of sheer honesty, I’ve realized that if there is no grace I have no hope. Without grace I am utterly lost.
There is also a mystery of grace that strikes awe in my soul, and I’ve experienced it with great joy. In those, “Oh my. It’s me,” moments of life, we can lift our eyes from that deep chasm of doom and despair, and rejoice in the marvelous, gracious, and forgiving love of God. In those moments hear him say, “Yes, it is you, and I love you more than you can ever imagine. Come to me through Jesus Christ and enjoy the riches of my lavish grace!”
In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:7-12