The main character in 'Shining Grace' is Sarah Harvey, a strong woman who, despite the curve-balls life throws her way, relies fully on God's strength to see her through some very hard situations. As I wrote Sarah's story, I was quite challenged by her character, and wondered how I would respond if I were in the same situation.
Would I be able to forgive someone for killing my husband (whether by accident or not)? It's a sobering thought, and one situation that hopefully, I won't have to experience.
The underlying message of 'Shining Grace' is of forgiveness and grace. Admittedly, these are hard topics to deal with. When someone hurts us, our instinctive human reaction is to want to hold on to the injustice served to us, and seek revenge. Some people act on that in a physical sense by bringing harm to the offender, while others (including myself at times), harbor a grudge and let bitterness and anger fester.
The thing is, when we let unforgiveness take root in our lives, it consumes us from the inside. What starts out as a small seed of hurt, can quickly manifest into a root of bitterness if it is not trampled out. From there, resentment grows and starts to affect everything we do, including hindering our relationships - not only with those who offended us, but also our relationship with God. In 'Shining Grace', this is the message Sarah tries to portray to her friend Matthew in justifying why she chose to forgive the young girl who took her husband's life.
Sarah struggled with forgiveness - she dealt with anger and bitterness, as we all do - but was prompted to forgive, and extend grace to Jessica, because Jesus forgave us and extended His grace to us.
When Jesus hung on the cross, the sins of the world on Him, He cried out, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Jesus had every right to be angry - He was falsely accused, He was beaten, He was mocked, He was spat upon, He was brutally nailed to a cross - and yet, He chose to forgive.
Forgiveness is not easy. It is a choice. It's a conscious decision we need to make every single day. But when we do, we find freedom. When we hand over our struggles to God, when we make the choice to forgive those who hurt us, we are casting off any bitterness, resentment and anger, and saying "I choose freedom from the strongholds that hold me back." Our forgiveness does not mean that the person who hurt us 'gets away with it' - but it does mean that we no longer need to carry the burden of what they have done. Their actions or words no longer have any power over us, because we have chosen forgiveness.
We forgive, because Jesus forgives us. It's as simple and as complex as that. That is the message woven through 'Shining Grace' and I hope it has, in some small way, been a blessing to you.
Until next time,