I have never had anyone from immediate family murdered and I cannot imagine what the Goldman family has gone through. I do not count their suffering or grief lightly though. Yet still, I believe we should forgive no matter what has been done to us.
I don't say this without sympathy. I know there are horrors people have endured in this life that I have not had to endure. I know there are scarred victims and suffering children and demonic people who enact their inner rage upon the innocent. I know this world can be a scary place sometimes and just getting through the day when you have great heartache because of wrongs committed against you can sometimes feel overwhelming.
I also know it is popular now to talk about how much forgiveness helps us as if the reason to forgive should be for our own sake. But I don't agree. If forgiving someone for murdering a member of my family was just about making me feel better in the end, then I do not believe I would feel as compelled to do it.
But no. Forgiveness is not about doing something to help me to heal. It is about obeying God. I believe obedience to God will definitely help us to heal but it is not for our own sakes we do it.
Here's why: Jesus, who committed no wrong, forgave the wrong done to Him. It shows us the standard God Himself requires. But we cannot live up to this standard on our own. It is only through the presence of Jesus in our lives that we are able to have the forgiveness for others that He practiced.
So, I should not forgive others because it will be better for me in the long run (though I believe it will). Nor should I forgive because the person who hurt me deserves to be forgiven. I should forgive because my Father asked me to forgive. He asked me to forgive the way He is willing to forgive me—the way He is willing to forgive us all.
And not one of us was as innocent and pure of heart as Jesus was when He was crucified yet He forgave. And since He died for our sin, it is not too much to ask us to strive to be like Him.
Sometimes I don't practice what I preach so well and I have to pray to forgive more than once. Many times, it's not easy to have a forgiving heart. But if we are sincere, God will help us. And as He helps us forgive, we will become more like Him.
That is the purpose. That is the reason. For with that kind of Love in our hearts, we will get to be more like Jesus.
And being more like Jesus is the best outcome we can take away from this sometimes horrendous life.
So, don't forgive for what it will do for you. Forgive because Jesus died for your sins and is willing to forgive you. Forgive in obedience to His request.
You will not be sorry because you will be more like Him.