The Amish way of forgiveness

I watched the movie Amish Grace last night. I hope you caught it, too. It was an astounding account of the way the Amish embraced an extremely troubled, yet ruthless man who was angry at God and wanted to offend Him by killing little girls of the Amish faith.

Sometimes, we see the tragedy and cannot fathom how God can make something good come from something evil. We blame Him, a good and perfect God, for all the evil that He allows. We step closer to the picture rather than backing away to get a better and more perfect view of the framework in which God works. After all He holds the universe in His palm. Who are we to rail at Him for choices another has made, or that we have made which results in consequences which suddenly surprise us? 

This story could have been just another hostage/massacre story which the news media glorifies for the space of a few days without much impact upon the lives of those who hear the story or read it in a newspaper. Yet, God put in place the people, the situation, the wherewithal for a troubled man who was otherwise a wonderful husband and father to murder five little girls and put five more in the hospital. 

Evil transpired that October morning. Evil pervaded the homes of those Amish people and filled the home of a woman who thought she had a rock-solid faith. When her world was rocked, she crumbled. When the Amish world was rocked, they took each hour minute by minute to offer up to our Almighty LORD the anger and pain and grief. The testimony that these people raised up to God, the glory that they brought Him touched the lives of everyone who heard or read about the immediate visit in the aftermath of tragedy they paid the broken widow of Charles Roberts. There are several quotes that are freshly poignant today as they were back when all this happened. An Amish  father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God."*
And in another report, Amish community members visited and comforted Roberts' widow, parents, and parents-in-law. One Amish man held Roberts' sobbing father in his arms, reportedly for as long as an hour, to comfort him.**

People around the world were astounded by the Amish reaction. Christians marveled. Yet, this is precisely what God told us to do. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that we are to forgive period. If we do not forgive, then the Father in Heaven will not forgive us. 

That does not mean that we lose our salvation, as I have heard some use this verse in Mark 11:26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your deviations.

It means that when we confess our sins as David did in Psalm 51, crying out to God to forgive his transgression, God creates in us a clean heart and He renews a right spirit within us. When we have not confessed our sin, when we do not acknowledge that we have sinned, then our spirit withers and our bones are troubled, Psalm 32:3  When I kept silence, then my bones became old, through my howling all day. And when we wallow in our sin, when we deliberately choose the path of anger and hatred, Psalm 38:3  There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger; nor peace in my bones because of my sin. 

Yea, though we walk through that valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil because the LORD is with us, because He is always in control, because He causes good to come from something Satan meant for evil. Good always comes to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will come. We may not see it because we focus on the evil rather that the potential for good. Why do we do this? Our human nature seems to be perpetually negative focused rather than giving it to the only One Who can fix the problem.

We cannot please God without faith. Without faith we cannot cut loose from anger and hate. But when we offer that anger to God, then those pleasant words are a balm to our sore souls. Proverbs 16:24  Pleasant words are an overflowing of honey, sweetness to the soul and healing to the bones. 

How incredibly pleasant are the words of forgiveness to a trouble soul. It is like pouring oil on troubled waters, it is like Jesus saying, "Peace, be still."

*^ "Amish Search for Healing, Forgiveness After 'The Amish 9/11' Religion News Service. 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
 ** a b Carey, Art (2007-10-01). "Among the Amish, a grace that endures"Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-01-17.

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