I was on my way out of town for a meeting and had a little time at the airport terminal before my flight.
On the seat next to me was a newspaper. One of the front page headlines caught my eye. It read: “Woman Sues Little League for $150,000.”
I read the article, which said a woman who was hit by a baseball at a Little League game was suing the 11-year-old player who threw it. She was asking the boy to pay her $150,000, alleging that his errant warm-up throw was “reckless.”
At first I chuckled. Then, I thought how absurd it was. How could anyone in their right mind sue a kid whose throw goes a little wild?
Then it hit me. It wasn’t about the recklessness of a wild throw. It was about the pain and embarrassment experienced by this woman who seemingly overpowered the objectivity of her rational mind. Her emotions, and the lump on her head, drove her to the place of desiring payback.
The same pain that drives this woman to sue a Little League player can hit us all. If we don’t handle the hurt the right way, we can end up making irrational decisions that can negatively affect us and others.
I would guess many of us have already made some of these decisions.
What is the antidote for such a litigious, revengeful, get-even world? Forgiveness, which is at the core of what Jesus Christ came to give us and the embodiment of what he lived.
Think about it. Jesus Christ was executed on a Roman cross for doing nothing more than loving people, feeding the hungry, and helping the hurting. There was no wild pitch that clocked Caesar in the head or some high religious crime that would merit a bit of the treatment he received.
What court would convict a man who showed absolute love and compassion? What people would yell for the release of a known terrorist? And, at the same time, cry for the crucifixion of the innocent?
Yet, this was exactly how it went down for Jesus Christ. He was an innocent man who was beaten, ridiculed, abandoned and humiliated. Even after being dragged through the streets and nailed to the cross, he wasn’t thinking about revenge or payback.
He asked his persecutors to be forgiven.
This often goes against the grain of how you and I handle hurtful situations. Sometimes we think that by holding a grudge and rehearsing the pain, we are getting back at those who have hurt us.
The opposite is true. We are only hurting ourself when we hold onto offenses and bitterness.
Jesus Christ chose to practice total forgiveness, to be an example; one that you and I should follow.
This type of forgiveness isn’t saying what happened to us was right, but it does bring freedom and release us from the damaging effects of an unforgiving heart.
It’s time to end all revenge tours and petty grievances that can water our life away and release total forgiveness.
Mike Tadlock is pastor of New Community Church in Fairfield. He can be reached at Michael firstname.lastname@example.org.