15 December 2017

Forgive as we have been Forgiven!

In our May issue we featured the story of Scott McNamara and how God changed his life – twice. Last month we read how it was for his mother dealing with a ‘prodigal son’. This month we widen the family circle to hear who else suffers in these situations. Jennifer, Scott’s mother-in-law, very honestly shares her struggle to forgive the man that hurt her daughter and grand daughter so much. And finally, in the next issue, we will hear from Scott’s amazing, adopted sister – not to be missed!

What if God said, “I can’t forgive you – look what you did to me, do you think I am soft?”

This is our attitude when someone hurts us. We want to lash out in a very human tit-for-tat fashion. The world teaches us that we should be selfsufficient, trust nobody, be positive!

What this does, is rob us of a fully trusting relationship with God. If we expect forgiveness we must learn to forgive. Is that easy? Absolutely not! Hurt can block out Christian values; it can turn us into judge and jury with a little bit of nastiness thrown in and never more so than when someone we love is being hurt.

Over a period of years, I grew to hate my son-in-law because of his treatment of my daughter and granddaughter. Even though he was a Christian, alcohol took hold of his life and sent him spiralling out of control. When he should have been with his wife and newborn baby, he was drinking all weekend and not coming home at all. He received chance after chance, and a couple of times he was even able to convince us that he had changed.

A separation followed and I really struggled with my feelings towards him. Such was my venom; given the chance, I would have stopped him seeing his daughter. He wasn’t going to make a fool of me again!

As parents we want to protect our children and fix everything for them, and as I was trying to do this I was not trusting God with the situation. I watched my daughter show such compassion and love for this man who had made her life miserable and I saw the strength of her faith. She knew that the only way back for her husband was through the redeeming blood of Jesus and she was able to hand her burdens over and leave him in the hands of her God.

It is amazingly humbling to learn such a lesson from your child. How could I not forgive? I prayed for my son-inlaw. It was hard, and to be honest, it was a while before I actually meant what I was saying. Of course God knew my struggle and was patient with me – another lesson! Eventually I found that great peace that only comes from trusting God, and accepting that He is in control. Were my sins any less? No!

Yet I expected God’s forgiveness. Praise God, the day came when the prodigal returned – full of passion for the God who forgives. Was it easy? No! I didn’t even want to see him at first but forgiveness was the beginning of letting go of my bitterness. It still took time to build up a new relationship. For me it was baby steps for a long time. Ultimately, my son-in-law and I are thankful for the bond we have in Jesus Christ.

Jennifer Mooney