Let me tell you two true stories.
Story 1 : A Malay girl fell asleep in the transporter’s van on her way to the kindergarten. She didn’t get down with the other children when they reached the school. Not realizing this, the driver who is also the principal, locked up the van and went off to attend to some matters. Almost four hours later she was found unconscious in the van. She was admitted to the hospital in a coma where she died four days later. The parents were devastated but forgave the principal, attributing the incident to fate.
Story 2 : A Chinese boy fell asleep in the transporter’s van on the way home from kindergarten. Somehow the principal who doubled up as a driver that day, didn’t realize that the boy had not disembarked and was still sleeping in the car. After dropping off the kids, she went back to the kindergarten and parked the car there. A few hours later, the boy was found unconscious in the van. He later died of dehydration. The parents wanted to bring the principal to court but eventually they settled it out of court. The principal had to take out half-page advertisements in the local dailies to “officially” apologize for her negligence that led to the boy’s death.
The stories are similar but the outcome different because one set of parents forgave whilst the other demanded a public apology. I hope that none of us would ever have to go through this agony but if a tragedy of this nature should befall us, how would we react? Would we, like the Malay parents, be magnanimous enough to forgive the perpetrator or would we be filled with righteous indignation and demand that the wrong-doer suffer the consequences of his act?
Have we been ill-treated or offended by others? Have we not forgiven because we feel that we have a right to be aggrieved or because pride stands in the way? Let’s look to the ultimate example of forgiveness : Jesus. He died an excruciating death on the cross. Yet He did not hold it against the people who sent him there. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
For if you forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
– Lydia Teh –
(Reprint from 2006 issue of the Christian Message)