Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Luna Eclipsed”
Reminiscing on this episode, it’s safe to say that none of us will ever have to deal with “repenting alicorn goddesses” crashing into our town one day who used to be, more or less, the “devil” of our religion and then try to adjust to how they are now and forgive them. Yet as I thought about it, I realized that we may all have a “Princess Luna” of a sort in our lives that we would prefer to just proverbially “scream and hide” from rather than “welcome”.
One of the things I hope that those reading this never have to deal with is what it is like to have a family member who is an addict. My family has several, and one of them is rather close to me. Addiction is a horrible, horrible thing. I don’t want to “oversimplify” the matter, but it really is like how Celestia may have been watching Luna turn into Nightmare Moon. You see a person you once loved, knew, and understood and you see them turn into a monster right in front of you. Something that is such a grotesque parody of who you once knew. I’m fully in support of all of those writers throughout history who described the corrupting effects of addiction because I’ve seen it firsthand. And I can’t recall how many sleepless nights my family went through, how many emergencies or crises, and how many senseless things I found out this family member did under the influence. Frankly, I’m not sure I want to know what else happened that I never found out about…
You hear those stories on the news about celebrities who seem to have “imploded” due to things like alcohol and drugs, and how they get bailed out or go into rehab only to do worse the next time, and to keep making news for their mishaps again and again. And most people end up sighing, shaking their heads, and saying: “That person is a lost cause. Why do they keep giving them second chances? They’re a hopeless junkie.”
Well, it’s a bit different when it happens to one of your own family members or someone you care about. But even then…even keeping the words of our Lord that said about forgiving others (Matthew 18:22, “Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”), there are honestly times I wanted this family member to die. Die and torment the rest of us no longer. Die and keep us from wasting our lives from giving the individual any more attention. They care nothing for any of us…why should we care about them? It would at least end this cycle of abuse. I’m not proud of that, but I’m being honest about what I felt at the time.
So when one family member in particular came seeking repentance (not for the first or second but more like the third or fourth time), I was rather bitter. By that point I viewed this individual the same way the world does: you already failed and that’s all you’ll ever do. You’re saying these things now but in a month you’ll be exactly the way you used to be, and you’ll put us all through another round of torment before it all starts over again. I don’t want to get into the details but, suffice to say, it’s getting close to two years and it seems to be “over” this time, and our relationship is better than ever now. We’re actually really talking to each other for the first time in years…maybe for the first time since we were little.
What I learned from this experience was not so much about the power of God’s Word or not giving up on someone fighting with addiction, but really what forgiveness really is. Not everyone who has hurt us terribly will be able to have a chance of reconciliation. For some things in life, that’s not practical or wise. But as far as forgiveness itself…that’s a test of a Christian’s faith and more importantly a Christian’s love. It’s being able to look on someone with sympathy and caring when any and all logic says to hate them. It’s making a conscious decision to love someone who has done nothing but show how little you mean to them and may not even love themselves. It’s not only “turning the other cheek” to someone who hurt you, but in some cases it’s where someone stabbed you in the heart and you’re risking baring it in front of you again. These aren’t acts of stupidity…they’re acts of bravery. Of courage.
I also saw what made this possible. When I had given up on this family member, there was another who hadn’t. Who was always the first to forgive and extend welcome back to this other family member, even when I would sit down with her and tell her to “forget about” the other family member; that this person would only hurt her again and again and we should forget about them or hate them (again…I’m not proud of this…). And the difference was love. This person showed me what real love was: love that you keep on giving even when you not only get nothing in return…but you get pain in return. And no matter what happened she kept loving this individual.
Please, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying relationships that are abusive (whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) are worth “sticking it out”. And this individual was indeed contributing some things in this case that she had to stop doing…although I’ll get to that in a later devotional. Sometimes loving people means leaving them on their own or even letting them go “for a season”. What I’m saying is that this person kept loving this family member. She never stopped like I did. She personified Christian forgiveness; the kind we wish to receive from Lord Jesus. The kind that enabled Him to cry out to God to forgive the very people who nailed him to a piece of wood and laughed as they watched Him slowly die.
There’s no real “special meaning” to today’s devotional. It’s the same thing that Christians say all the time pretty much: WWJD or “What Would Jesus Do?” I’m just pointing out that this is not always as easy as just saying a cute little acronym. For some of us in some situations, it might be impossible right now. But it’s something we all need to strive for. It’s a sign of how “perfect in love” we are, and just how much “like Jesus” we can be. Mark 11:25 reads, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” I don’t believe Lord Jesus was saying this just as a condition or prerequisite on a checklist. He was saying it because it testifies to how sincere we are about being Christian. Our ability to forgive testifies to how much genuine love is in our hearts…how we love people who genuinely cannot or will not repay us. The ability to forgive is a sign that we are loving more as the Lord does.
May we all love in that way.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the immense love you have shown me by sending Lord Jesus to die for my sins and grant me salvation. Please remove from me whatever parts of my heart have grown stony, callous, or hateful toward others, and grant me the grace and power to forgive the following individuals just as you have forgiven me: (name them). Help me to not be conformed to this world’s idea of who is a ‘failure’ but instead always act as Jesus to all. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”