Read Proverbs Chapter 24.
“Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.” Proverbs 224:29 CSB
On October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts walked into West Nickel Mines Amish school outside of Lancaster, PA and shot 8 of the 10 girls in the classroom. They were between the ages of 6-13. Over the past 20 years there have been over 200 school shootings in our country. It has, unfortunately become a part of our culture. The response the Amish society had to this incident sets it apart from all the others.
Within days of the shooting they tore down the school house and rebuilt it on a new location. They called for quick and immediate forgiveness of the shooter. Amish neighbors visited the widow, parents and parents in-law of Charles within hours of the shooting to offer comfort to them in their grief. Over 30 members of the Amish community, including parents and grandparents of the victims attended Charles Roberts funeral. They were instructed to not think evil of Charles. They wanted to forgive quickly and offer comfort to all those involved in this tragedy.
It was a very controversial response in the media. How could they not want justice for what this man had done to their families and their community? As one Amish member said, “He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he’s standing before a just God.” They understood it wasn’t up to them to exact justice, justice is God’s.
To this day, this example of extreme grace impacts my life. I pray I never face such circumstances. I don’t know if I would have the Godly reaction this community had. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt back. Rick Warren says, “Hurting people hurt others.” That helps me remember, we are all walking wounded. It may not show on the outside but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Letting God handle our hurts is difficult. Releasing our offender to Him, letting Him be the judge may seem impossible. It may take time, you may have to do it over and over again. But it is the way to freedom from the hurt. Exacting revenge won’t make the hurt go away, it won’t even make you feel better, it will only compound an already difficult situation.
Give it to God. Try not to take it back. Let Him heal your heart.