As much as we would like it to be, it is not unusual to either experience personally or through someone else’s story evil spitting in our faces.
What I am referring to is opening ourselves up to someone who has hurt us badly, in order to advance forgiveness on our part, and being told by that person that we are wrong to be upset by what happened.
In the first place, it might begin.
And then might finish up with, How can you blame me for what happened to you?
This may come from rapists. Or from someone who beat us. Or degraded us for years.
Or betrayed us.
Betrayal can come from so many directions, and affect us profoundly.
It can be found anywhere.
And when we become aware of our reaction to those serious injuries that we wish with all our heart never happened, when we commit ourselves to right action in response to our aching, and we pick up our willingness to forgive, accomplish the distance between our enemies and us, we find no ground underneath us to stand on.
We find that not only are we not going to receive an apology, to witness tears of shame and remorse, to become the object of compassion, but we are going to be blamed for for the incident and for feeling resentful against this enemy.
The true teeth of evil is to convince us that we, ourselves, are the evil ones.
We are the ones who sinned.
We are blessed as Christians to receive Jesus’s teachings on sin, its shape, its reality, its consequences. But we are even more blessed to be given an understanding of innocence.
It is not only in his words, in his respectful treatment of others, it is, most importantly, in his own example.
He, himself, is innocent. And yet he is blamed.
He is denounced as evil.
He is the ultimate example of one who having reached out in love and graciousness, has this same love and graciousness turned around and used against him as a weapon.
So, we learn from Jesus that when we approach someone evil and contorted with sin, that it is important to own our own innocence in the matter that lies between us.
Our culture, for some perverse reason, just loves to strip that away from us as best as it can.
There is no such thing as innocence. You are always to blame for something in the situation.
But this is actually not true.
There are occurrences when we are, in fact, wholly blameless. And not only that, there are times when we are attacked just because of our holiness, our goodness, our sinlessness.
The light we may have around us at the time may even be the draw for the attack.
This self-awareness needs to be the first weapon that we carry with us when we approach evil for the purposes of forgiveness.
(And I don’t mean self-righteousness.)
Humility is such a key to so much in our work.
The second strongest weapon we have in our sheath is the word, “no.”
When we find ourselves wondering if God hates us because he “let” this horror happen to us in the first place, the word to use is, “no.”
When we find ourselves mocked for the suffering we have experienced, accused of weakness and self-pity, the word to use is, “no.”
The more we are capable of employing this weapon, the stronger we are in keeping our balance in any confrontation – real or in our prayers – with our enemy.
Forgiveness, in my book, is the motion to close the separation between us and him. (Or her.)
Nevertheless, one distinction in dealing with evil is that pushing back against the onslaught, expected or not, is key to accomplishing our goal.
Another unique factor in reaching out with forgiveness to an evil one is by starting at the end and working backwards.
That probably doesn’t make any sense.
I apologize for that.
Most of the times we find ourselves lacking in forgiveness, we start from that point and move forward toward the target. I don’t forgive you for what you did, so I’m beginning with a prayer to be able to do so.
And then we achieve our desire by working on it. Or by letting God work on us. We move, as on a people mover in an airport, until we find ourselves talking with this person as though we are finished with holding resentment against him.
Because we are.
Through our sincere prayers and actions, we have literally changed our internal dynamic concerning the hurt.
However, with evil, when we find ourselves in the situation of wanting to forgive, we need to start at the end.
To have healed sufficiently to be able to get on with our lives, and, most importantly, to have found new happiness.
When this occurs, if it does occur, we are in a much better position to hold what happened to us with better understanding.
Wisdom does wonders for taming chaos.
For learning how to stand before a dragon.
Because, when our lives are restored, we can let go of so much of the fury that had kept us spinning around the incident.
And I realize that the most common thought concerning forgiving one who refutes all that is good in the universe is, Why bother?
Why bother trying to forgive evil when he is only going to try and make the wound deeper when you attempt reconciliation.
So, I offer you this challenge:
Find out for yourself the answer to the following questions:
Does the prayer to forgive an unrepentant sinner change the world? Is such a prayer a form of intercessory prayer?