Have you been deeply hurt by someone? Furthermore, how have you dealt with your hurt? My guess is that your first natural response was not forgiveness, was it?
Someone once said that, “…to make a mistake is human, to forgive is out of the question.” I think that is very true because forgiveness does not come natural for human beings.
As part of our Northeast At the Movies series, we reflected on the message communicated in the movie Spider 3 in terms of forgiveness. In the movie Spider Man 3, everything looks like it’s going great for Peter at the beginning of the movie. Peter is liked, getting good grades, and MJ is his girlfriend to whom he will propose to marry him. Yet, there is unresolved unforgiveness Peter Parker's life.
People hurt us and, apparently for no good reason. Peter Parker was deeply hurt by his uncle’s death by someone who randomly killed him. That is something hidden in him and as soon as Aunt May gets emotional about uncle Ben, his hurt starts surfacing again.
There is a biblical story about someone who had been persecuted for no reason-King David.
Saul lost his anointing as king of Israel and could not forgive God and became jealous of David and wanted to harm him.
Saul certainly had a number of reasons to go after the Philistines. After all, they had caused harm to Israel. But, as for David, Saul had no justification for his anger and attack on David. Yet, Saul went after David full force.
1 After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats (1 Samuel 24:1-2).
In Spider man 3, when Peter discovers that Eddie cheated to get a position Peter wanted, Peter responds violently. Eddie begs for mercy but Peter snaps at him. Peter had not dealt with forgiveness. Now, what it was a small feeling took over Peter Park and, now, other small situations in his life are driven by un-forgiveness. Eddie, on the other hand, initially jealous of Peter Parker, now, is also driven by un-forgiveness and revenge.
We will never get away from people/situations that will cause us hurt because we live in a sin-wrecked world. We will always find Sauls – who for no apparent reason – will hurt us. It may be . . .
a dad who deserted you.
a mother who treated you poorly.
a teacher who humiliated you.
a child who has rejected you.
a colleague who betrayed you.
a friend who slandered you.
a church member who betrayed you.
In Spider Man 3, Peter Parker tells Aunt May that he couldn’t propose to to MJ. The main reason seemed to be his unresolved issues of forgiveness.
Just like in this situation of Peter Parker, David had a perfect situation to hold grudge and unforgiveness. David had the perfect opportunity to retaliate against Saul.
“3 He came to the sheepfolds along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, "This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.' "Then David [moved] unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe.” 1 Samuel 24:3-4.
When we don’t forgive, we are constantly confronted by ghost of revenge. Those moments are to be moments of deep reflection and possible a turning point in our life. The problem is not necesarily that we feel hurt and cannot forgive someone. The problem is how we go about our feeling of unforgiveness which can easily become revenge.
When someone hurts us and we think we deserve better, we place their name and the hurt in the debit column. In other words, we want to make people pay and, whenever the opportunity comes around, we are ready to take revenge.
It can be an aggressive revenge:
anger, harsh words
purposely destroying their reputation before others
dishonesty, stealing, lying
using our finances and influence to hurt them
Or, it can be a passive one:
ignoring them (acting like they don’t exist)
feeling proud and self-righteous (“I’m glad I’m not like them.”)
withholding love (Jesus commands us to love everyone, even our enemies.)
How have we been dealing with unforgiveness?
In Spider Man 3, Peter Parker visits Aunt May after Spider Man apparently kills the man responsible for Uncle Ben’s murder. He thinks Aunt May will be happy when she hears the news.
Unlike Peter Parker, though David was being persecuted (hunted down), he refused to hold any bitterness against Saul…He chooses the path of forgiveness.
David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, "Why do you listen when men say, 'David is bent on harming you'? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, 'I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD's anointed.' 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. (1 Samuel 24:8-11).
How vulnerable was David for pursuing the path of forgiveness? Could Saul simply kill David right on the spot? Yes, just like Peter Parker, should he chosen not to forgive and to take revenge, he would’ve been consumed by un-forgiveness every step of the way. Furthermore, should David not chosen the path of forgiveness and vulnerability, the end result could've different.
“16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, "Is that your voice, David my son?" And he wept aloud. 17 "You are more righteous than I," he said. "You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.” (1 Samuel 24: 16 - 20).
Does ever single hurtful situation has an happily ever after ending? Maybe not. Is it worth pursuing the path of forgiveness? Absolutely! Risky as it was, David chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation instead of being consumed by un-forgiveness and bitterness for the rest of his life.