I will admit to you first and foremost that it is extremely hard to pray and love the person or people who have hurt us! Even though we know that we should, it is not always easy to put forgiveness into practice. Often times, we have allowed the resentment and anger to eat us from within, taking away our joy and happiness because we cling on to the hurt that the other side imposed upon us. In turn, when we are not joyful, everything around us becomes tainted with the cloudy and negative outlook of life, which also affects our relationship with others because we have little to give in our own pains. So, what should we do? How can we be merciful to others as Jesus has been merciful in His own life and toward us who (repeatedly) have offended Him?
I believe, first, in order to be merciful, we have to be meek. It is often our pride that hurts us when we are hurt by others. Our pride will either lock us in our own self-created pities or hatred of others around us. Pride can create unnecessary grudges, negative or retributive thoughts and contemplations. Meekness is not weakness, for a meek person is strong and gentle, in knowing who he or she is without pretensions or excuses. The meek person is confident in God‘s wisdom and love for him or her, as well for all humanity, even in the midst of trials, sufferings, and imperfections. The meek person tries to understand and discern all things, words and actions, according to the eternal law, truth, and goodness set forth by the Almighty instead of his or her own interpretations of human pettiness. In times of hurt, it is very easy and tempting to return what was given to us in equal force so that the person or people who hurt us would feel the similar pains that we are feeling. Yet, equal-force retributions never end well because hatred creates more hatred, evil with more evil. As Christians, we are taught and can recognize the perverted reality of sin and its grievance against God, especially its potential destruction of our soul. We should feel and grieve for the hurts and evils in this world caused by sin, ours and those of others. However, this grieve is not the end nor should the negativity and sorrows be our only modes of operation.
We are invited to meet and understand suffering with the confidence of faith, hope, and love because the Lord Jesus Christ had gone before us on the same path. Even though the decision to be Christlike in our words and actions is not easy, we know that our unity with Christ is the only means to true redemption and salvation of the world. Instead of returning evil with evil, which will destroy people and relationships, our forgiveness and mercy become instrumental in letting our love be grounded in Christ Jesus — not of the world. All of us desire and hunger for happiness; yet, we oftentimes end up choosing things that are destructive by chasing after matters that are short-lived or only self-centered. The Lord reminds us that only eternal, life-giving values are satisfying as we seek the transcendence above the ever-changing matters of this world.
The everlasting and eternal values that are based on faith, hope, and love help us to be able to come to term with the reality of sin in the world, knowing that while unrighteous injustices afflict us, our willingness and desire to choose the good helps us to be the light of Christ and witnesses of truth in this world of individualistic self-centeredness. Therefore, forgiveness and mercy are not just something easy to feel or chosen lightly, it is a willingness and personal choice to choose to do what the Lord had chosen and taught us. To be merciful and forgiving is to realize that we also need it! Mercy does not just affect others, it affects us first. To be merciful is a personal, intimate, and willing choice to reflect His divine life and love in our very ordinary life choices and actions. Mercy helps us transcend the actions done in order to consider the person in all of his or her blessings and brokenness, who is also in need of forgiveness and divine grace just like us.
To be merciful is hard because it requires us to return true justice, not just petty retribution, by discerning how to call out the wrongs done in a respectful, compassionate way, but also to love the person in spite of the wrongdoings he or she did. While it is very tempting to let the evil one locks us in our own retributive desires to return the wrongs done to us, mercy helps us to fight injustice with our very own willingness to conquer it in our own heart and in the heart of the other person so we do not lose our true humanity. Just like the Almighty who did not accept our sin and call it good, mercy helps us to oppose injustices and wrongdoings with true love that touches and converts the heart — ours and others.
Mercy requires time to calm down in order not to react. It requires prudential and wise discernment, especially the willingness to seek and desire good for the other person. It takes time so we can truly sift through the sentimental, reactionary desires to act right away. It takes time in order to bring all things to the Lord, seek His guidance, calm down, and find the appropriate response with the purity of heart so that our life decisions are aligned to the path of Him who chose to die for the sake of the world. It takes time because we need time to reflect and conform our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls — our everything — to Jesus Christ so that our purposeful discernment is united to His love for all humanity. Mercy willingly accepts the possibility that the relationship will not be the same and what we have chosen might not be accepted lovingly, yet it is what we have discerned and chosen in the purity of heart and clarity of our conscience with the grace of God. In all things, we have to ask ourselves whether our decisions are: 1) a reaction or a response; 2) prayerful discerned and made in goodness and truth; 3) with a clear conscience; 4) and not just for the benefits of ourselves?
Truly, to be merciful and to forgive as the Lord Jesus Christ did is not easy. It is not an easy choice nor an easy road to follow the Master! However, if we lose the ability to be merciful and have compassion for others, especially those who are hard to love, we will, in turn, lose our very humanity. To be Christlike is to walk the path that radiates the true, personal, intimate, extraordinary and infectious joy that is not dictated by self-centered human standards, expectations, or demands. To be merciful and forgiving is a choice, a willingness to choose the standards of Christ than our own worldly or personal standards so that we can truly be grounded in Him and live our true faith, even in bitter times. Mercy helps us to recognize that we are truly human when we choose to love the other person beyond our personal reservations. Mercy helps us to be in touch with the depth of our soul and be moved to see others around us who are still struggling with their brokenness, just as we are with ours. Mercy gives us the true motivation to rise above what hurts us to see other people as they are, worth redeeming and saved by the Blood of the Savior. Mercy helps us be true to who we are, disciples of Christ Jesus, so we are not locked alone in our own selves but walk with one another with true love. While it is hard to be merciful, it is very necessary for we have been given mercy from God Himself.