A reader posted an interesting comment a few days ago about having an abusive spouse of which they had forgiven over and over for their bad deeds. Their emotions play havoc on their ability to sleep at night. They think by forgiving their spouse over and over, they are letting them run all over them.
It was a comment that struck home in my thoughts as Sidney Slaton, an alcoholic, was forgiven by the Reverend Mrs. Ada Slaton Bonds over and over in my novel Faith – Seventy Times Seven. I remembered from one chapter to another, as the story unfolded, asking my wife, “how in the world can my grandmother stay with such an abusive husband and turn to God and forgive Sidney for his abusiveness? How did Miss Ada confront this repeated abuse by Sidney? How was she able to forgive and forgive, seventy by seven times, without feeling he was running all over her?”
Again, I am not an ordained minister, only a grandson who has studied scripture after scripture while writing the life story of Miss Ada. But, I must admit, I have learned much more than I could ever imagine writing FAITH.
Ada did confront Sidney, but only once. There was never a year that went by she was not abused verbally or physically nor their children, as well. Ada knew by confronting Sidney, it might be opening a breach that could never be closed. However, much like her Divine Calling in 1912, she knew the righteousness of God demanded she take action.
Outside Coushatta, Louisiana, on four-mile hill, Miss Ada wore out a small path of red clay as she made her way to the back wood’s smokehouse to talk with God. When it came to the incident of physical punishment to her two young boys, she knew why she must confront injustice. This is where forgiveness comes to be. Ada knew that God did not want her to meet head on Sidney’s injustice out of anger or bitterness. She knew tackling Sidney’s injustice, taking action to make him pay for what he did to the boys would be wrong as she, herself, would be guilty of sin.
Miss Ada seemed to always turn to one of the scriptures when searching for forgiveness for her husband of twenty years. In this case, she would turn to James 1:20. “…for Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” If Ada were to retaliate against the injustice that Sidney served to his two sons out of anger and bitterness, even though in my opinion her cause was just, she would be acting unrighteously and God would not have blessed her efforts.
I recommend, if you not have already done so, to read Miss Ada’s life story. You will also be led to ask yourself why she doesn’t retaliate for such abusiveness by Sidney Slaton. But, let me conclude, in my opinion, that forgiveness is always, and I repeat, always appropriate, even in cases where we are repeatedly wronged. We must get rid of any bitterness and resentment we derive from such acts before we take that step of confrontation. Otherwise, we will be labeled guilty of performing a righteous thing in an unrighteous way…and, God will not bless us!
Let me conclude today’s post by saying most of us don’t need forgiveness…we need to forgive. Forgive from your heart…write a letter or make a telephone call. Forgive my jumping in your car and driving over and seeing someone face to face. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, let go of that rope of anger and bitterness. How many times does one need to forgive? Jesus says, “Seventy times Seven.”