Far from land in off the coast of St. Thomas in the Carribean Sea, my parents were scuba diving in beautiful coral reefs with their friends. Every detail had been planned out. They’d rented a boat and hired a knowledgable captain and crew who would man the boat while they drift dived. Their friends were certified scuba diving instructors. 

What could go wrong?

My mom and dad scuba diving
My mom and dad scuba diving in St. Thomas

My parent’s first thought as they emerged after a long dive and bobbed in the waves, was where is the boat? They discovered it off in the distance and waved their arms to get the captain’s attention, but the boat never turned. It turns out, the captain and crew abandoned their posts to go lobster trapping, and in the strong current, the anchor didn’t hold.

A helpless panic settled in their stomachs. They were adrift in the ocean.

My mom says it’s the closest she’s ever come to drowning.

My dad pushed himself to the limit and eventually made it to the boat. Exhausted and completely spent, he turned the boat around and picked up my mom and the others. I’m certain the captain got an earful when my father lowered the ladder for him and his crew. The captain had messed up. He’d risked all of their lives. My life and the life of my younger brother could have been dramatically altered all because a captain wanted to eat lobster for dinner?

Thinking about it makes me angry. Fortunately, my parents lived to tell me the tale, but not everyone can say the same. How does one move past the anger, the hurt, and the pain to forgive a wrong?

REACH – is an acronym for emotional forgiveness developed by Everett Worthington of Virginia Commonwealth University.
R is for Recall – objectively remembering the hurt
E is for Empathy – understanding the person who wronged you
A is for Altruism – Remembering a time you were forgiven and offering forgiveness
C is for Committing – publically forgiving
H is for Holding on – reminding yourself that you’ve chosen to forgive despite the hurt

The A is the key to this formula—remembering what’s been done for us so we can forgive also. Jesus took our past, future, and present sins and nailed them to the cross. He forgave us so that we no longer have to bear the weight of our shame. Because of what he did for us our guilt is removed as far as the east is from the west.

Some will say, But you don’t understand the hurt… you don’t understand the pain…

Stained glass of Jesus on the cross

Jesus does. He bore the worst hurt, rejection, and pain a person can withstand, and he did it for us.

At one point or another, we’ve all been the captain, putting our desires first, not considering the consequences, making wrong decisions that affect other’s lives. We’ve messed up. But, we have a forgiving God who sees our faults and loves us anyway.

He forgives us.

The act of forgiveness is never easy, but it becomes manageable when your viewing it from the perspective of the cross.

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