Dealing with the past is not easy, especially when bad things have happened. In recent months people who were abused as children and teenagers have come forward. It is clear that they are still traumatised and are struggling with the pain of what happened to them. In some cases, those who abused them have died, which makes investigating the accusations and bringing justice impossible.
Many of us have had bad experiences in life because people have done wrong things to us. When these experiences cannot be dealt with and resolved we may struggle with ongoing pain and anger. As a result our lives may be crippled for many years and there may seem to be no way of moving forward.
Jesus suffered unjustly and was condemned to death on false charges. He was a good man who had healed the sick, set people free from the power of evil and even raised dead people to life. His teaching brought blessing to many people. But his life and teaching were a challenge to those who were in power and so they plotted to have him put to death. When he was condemned to death, at the age of 33, he had to cope with an injustice to which there could be no remedy in this life. His condemnation and death were a gross abuse of power.
So how did he deal with this? When he suffered, “he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” He committed the whole situation to God, his Father. He knew that a time would come when God will call us all to account and judge us in perfect justice. No one ever really escapes justice. So we, too, can leave issues which we have not been able to resolve with God and try to move on. He will deal with us all justly.
But Jesus also gives us an amazing example. As he hung on the cross he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” He did not want those who were responsible for his death to be condemned but to find forgiveness. So, too, God can give us grace and strength to forgive others for what they have done to us. Hatred and the desire for revenge can consume us. The wonderful experience of God’s forgiveness for our sins creates in us the desire that others, too, may find his forgiveness.