O God, on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C. S. Lewis once observed that loving people is a good idea in general, but it gets much more difficult when you start talking about specific people. I knew a woman who had been hurt by a member of her own family. It was a pattern of disrespect and dismissive treatment. She could not let it go. But what is one to do with this? Grudge-bearing is just swallowing poison and hoping it hurts the other guy. Vengeance never really solves anything. Even something as good as understanding fails us in these sorts of situations. If I understand that it was an accident that you stepped on my foot, does it hurt any less? What is more, this was not something which lent itself to a ready understanding. How can one ever really understand petty cruelty?
But God says that His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts; they are in fact much higher and better (Isaiah 55). All of us need to be taught to forgive. It does not come naturally to us. Only God can teach us to see another human being and their broken, sinful, and frankly repulsive life as something for which Jesus died and rose again. It starts with acknowledging that Jesus does that for me too. He forgives me. But in forgiving me He is also teaching my heart, training my heart to walk in His ways which are higher and better than my ways, to think His thoughts, which are higher and better than my thoughts. In that passage in Isaiah, the prophet asks us to remember the steadfast love God had for David. David was not easy to love. He murdered, broke up marriages, and could be exceedingly cruel. But the Bible is unequivocal, God loved David despite David’s sins. That is how He loves you too. That is the love which has come into your heart, a love for the unlovely. Teach our hearts, we pray. Teach us Your love!