“In the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania,” said James E. Faust, “a devout group of Christian people live a simple life without automobiles, electricity, or modern machinery. They work hard and live quiet, peaceful lives separate from the world. Most of their food comes from their own farms. The women sew and knit and weave their clothing, which is modest and plain. They are known as the Amish people.”
In October of 2006, a 32-year old milk truck driver, who was not Amish but who did business with them, went berserk.
He stormed into the Amish school without any provocation, released the boys and adults, and tied up the 10 girls. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding five. Then he took his own life.
Mr. Faust continued: “This shocking violence caused great anguish among the Amish but no anger. There was hurt but no hate. Their forgiveness was immediate. Collectively they began to reach out to the milkman’s suffering family.
As the milkman’s family gathered in his home the day after the shootings, an Amish neighbor came over, wrapped his arms around the father of the dead gunman, and said, ‘We will forgive you.’
“Amish leaders visited the milkman’s wife and children to extend their sympathy, their forgiveness, their help, and their love.
About half of the mourners at the milkman’s funeral were Amish. In turn, the Amish invited the milkman’s family to attend the funeral services of the girls who had been killed.
A remarkable peace settled on the Amish as their faith sustained them during the crisis.
“Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed.
As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy.”
Wow! Could you do that? What of getting even? What of revenge?
When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger.
We may feel justified in wanting to “get even” with anyone who inflicts injury on us or our family. Some hold grudges for a lifetime.
Forgiveness is not always instantaneous as it was with the Amish but courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic. Rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.
Mr. Faust went on to say, “Forgiveness is a source of power. But it does not relieve us of consequences.
When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go.”
Source: Ensign Magazine, May 2007
Next Week: Render unto Caesar...