Stepping up to the counter in a fast food restaurant, I found myself face to face with a smiling middle-aged woman. “You look happy today,” I said. “Well I’m not,” she snapped, her smile quickly fading. And immediately I knew why I had stopped there to eat.
Each morning I stock my shirt pocket with a variety of printed mini-messages (most are condensed columns) that I hope will make a difference in the lives of people I meet.
I’m looking for people who are going through tough times and need to know God loves them or those who are familiar with the facts but are in need of a faith lift.
Now, not knowing what had stolen the smile from this troubled waitress, I reached into my arsenal of doubt destroyers, hoping to find one that would be just right for her. To my surprise, I found only one title: “Forgive... and live again.”
One look at that title unleashed a Niagara of negatives from the waitress about her husband. She was so angry at him that she could only mask her misery for a short time without clouding up and nearly exploding. Now this stranger standing in front of her had dared suggest she forgive him. Impossible!
But in the time it took to serve a hamburger her anger was gone and her smile had returned. “God sent you to me today,” I heard her call as I made my way, carrying my tray, to the booth that day. Forgiveness had done its work of overcoming anger and bringing peace to a troubled heart and home.
A man once told me how angry he had been at a person who kept trying to destroy his career. This critic seemed bent on turning everyone against him.
Friends who knew of the situation advised him to take his opponent to court to get relief and possibly some financial compensation, but he found himself unable to do this in light of what his Lord had endured from His critics without complaining.
Instead, this slandered one decided to follow the Lord’s example. He would forgive his enemy and trust God to take care of him. After doing so, he found such great relief that he made a list of others who had given him trouble in the past and forgave them too. Now he says he’s thankful for the one who brought him so much grief because forgiving her enabled him to forgive others. And, in forgiving, he found he wasn’t angry anymore.
According to the Bible, we’re never to close a day angry: “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” said Paul (Ephesians 4:26); adding: “Let all bitterness and anger...be put away from you” (Ephesians 4:30). Think of the changes obeying these two Biblical commands would bring to our homes, our churches, our schools, even the nation.
How often are we to forgive? Try 490 times (Matthew 18:22). Of course, after forgiving 490 times, you’ll be in the habit of living in a forgiving way and anger won’t be a problem to you anymore.
Roger Campbell is an author, a columnist and broadcaster who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at email@example.com