Let’s consider another Scripture verse for this Lent Devotional for Women. The verse I want to look at is Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” And although I’m no theologian, I’m pretty sure that sentence right there could be a great daily prayer. I don’t need to tell you, we live in an offended world. It seems like someone or some group is always offending or being offended.
I don’t know if you can choose one set of words over the other in importance, but I would think the words said from the cross by our Lord could count as some of the most important. They were His final words said as the God-Man before He left His earthly life. And one of the last things He did was to ask forgiveness for those who had been most offensive to Him and His beloved followers.
I would guess statistically very few of us known intentionally malicious people. We may know ‘mean girls’ or a narcissist (Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement) but probably not a person whose sole desire to cause us harm, hurts, and pain.
But like I mentioned, we all know a mean-girl or five, we all know someone with an inflated sense of self, we all know someone who has been so bitterly hurt all they can do is hurt in return, and we all know people who are decidedly insecure and lash out in the hopes of making themselves feel more secure. And boy-oh-boy do any number of those people really get under our skin and into our head…or maybe it’s just me?
Reading those words of our Lord made me wonder. When those people come to mind, what would happen if just as the internal conversations began…you know the one right? Mine usually begin with, “Oh yeah, well…” What would happen if I stopped and said, “Father, please forgive her because she doesn’t know what she is doing.”
In all reality, I would guess, again, taking a gamble here; I would guess most people who hurt us don’t realize the extent. And honestly, how could they? They aren’t us. They don’t have our temperament, personality, family history, sensitivities, etc. See all of those listed contribute to how we internalize the words and actions of others. We bring our stuff to the conversation just like they bring theirs and suddenly a “Wow! You look great!” turns into a, “What the what! How bad do I normally look to have earned that left-handed compliment?!?”
And I am in no way trivializing the hurts we sustain from others, girls, we’ve all got stories of broken relationships, some beyond repair. I’m just saying, taking our offense to God as a prayer for the other person seems a very Christian and Christ-like thing to do. And in a completely and totally selfish way, it frees us from all those internal conversations that begin with, “Oh yeah, well…” Another thing to consider, we’re probably not the only person they are hurting…but what if we’re the only one praying for them.
I know, ouch.
And what if the measure of mercy we extend to them is the measure of mercy others extend to us? Surely you didn’t think we were the only ones on the receiving end of hurts? Unfortunately, we are also on the giving end.
“Father, forgive us because we don’t know what we are doing.”