When Forgiveness Has No Price

How much does forgiveness cost?  For most of us, if someone wrongs us by hurting our feelings, it’s the price of a verbal apology.  Sometimes the price involves flowers, especially when it’s our significant others.  However, the deeper the wound, the higher the price.  For others, the cost of forgiveness is time, as we hold grudges for extended periods until our ire simmers and our tempers cease.  By what happens when the cost of forgiveness is beyond material possessions?  Such is the case with Pakistan’s resident Saba Qaiser.  As documented in the film “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” (Currently streaming on HBO), Saba lives in a society where the rights of women, especially young women, are not as strong as they are in our country.  It was at the age of 19 when she decided to marry her boyfriend against her father’s wishes.  This boyfriend was a member of a lower income class, so her father decided that she had dishonored her family.  To regain honor for his family, the father and Saba’s uncle decided to commit what is known as an “honor killing.”  They lured her to the outskirts of town, shot her in the face, threw her in a bag, and tossed her into the river to die.  Miraculously, she survived, as at the last second she tilted her head away from the gunshot, so what was supposed to kill her instead tore through the left side of her face.  Crawling to safety, she reported the crime and her father and uncle were placed into police custody.  Horrifically injured, she was operated upon and left facially scarred.  Interviewed in jail, her father praised his own actions, saying that she had brought shame to her family and he had restored it, that he does not regret his actions.  But for Saba, she was now left with a choice: condemn their actions and let them serve their sentence or forgive them and by law, have them acquitted.  Because of the pressures of the town, her family, and the elders, she was forced to forgive them in court, and they now walk free despite their actions.  She says that she may have forgiven them in the eyes of the law, but she does not forgive them in her heart, as that price is incalculable.  That such atrocities and human rights violations occur is unforgivable, but what we should really focus our attention to is that sometimes, for us on this Earth, there are actions that speak beyond forgiveness, events so horrific that forgiveness is not possible.  So what does this then say about our savior, whom we treated much worse?  To quantify: we beat Him, placed a crown of thorns on His head, whipped Him with leather straps that held bits of metal and glass that ripped at His flesh, nailed Him to a cross, taunted and humiliated Him, and He ultimately died as a result of His injuries.  What is the cost of forgiveness for these actions?  According Ephesians 2.8:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  So what then is our cost to Christ for forgiveness?  Nothing, according to this scripture: it is free, thus there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve it.  Grace is the receiving of undeserved blessing, or in this case, the cost of forgiveness.  This comparison helps us understand how much Christ truly loves us.  Because of His divine nature, He grants forgiveness freely, making His sacrifice that much more astounding.  We are completely undeserving of His forgiveness, but despite our actions and because of His love for us and His perfect nature, we are forgiven and saved.  Amen.


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