Sometimes when I read the news I get a little overwhelmed. I value being informed, but at times it feels like too much. The amount of suffering and injustice on this earth is staggering. It seems like there are major natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and stories of twisted psychopaths, random violence, and unjust wars on a weekly basis. I often find myself wondering, despite all desire to not be a weirdo, if we truly are accelerating towards the end times. I think it’s important to face those things in the restful confidence of Christ’s redemption of this earth—his overthrowing of all injustice and his obliteration of suffering and death that will come! But some days, the devastation just buries itself into a deep, hard pit in my chest.
Today however, I read something that was deeply good, hopeful, and redemptive. This photograph is of a Rwandan woman sharing a meal in her home with her neighbor after church. She works with this neighbor’s wife and the friends weave baskets together for Macy’s at a large artisan coop.
The neighbor to her left slaughtered her husband, sons, and other members of her family and friends before her very eyes just a few years ago.
This is a story about forgiveness. One of the most large-scale and remarkable pictures of forgiveness that I have ever seen. When asked how she could manage such a deep and diffucult forgiveness, the woman said "I am a Christian. I pray a lot." This is not an isolated case, but a picture of hope in an African nation that is rebuilding after the unimaginable devastation in the aftermath of millions of people brutally killed by their own neighbors. The forgiveness is actually part of a process encouraged and organized by the government. Men and women are publicly coming before the very communities and individuals that they terrorized, expressing deep remorse and sorrow, and asking for forgiveness. And the people give it. And not only speak words of forgiveness, but welcome the killers back into their lives and homes, working, living, and worshiping alongside them again.
"It hurts my heart to see that I did something wrong to friends of my family, to people who we even shared meals with," he said. "I am still asking for forgiveness from the people I hurt." Amazingly many seem to have forgiven.
I cannot even begin to comprehend the emotional destruction that a sight and experience like that causes. Yet today Rwanda is moving forward, propelled by hope and forgiveness. That is the kind of redemption that is only possible because ultimately, Jesus is King.