6/26/16 - Framed - Jesus

 

The Bridge Life Connection

Framed: Daniel                                                                                                            Sunday, June 19, 2016

Speaker: Justin Douglas, Lead Pastor

I was 14 years old. The year was 1998. Raise your hand if you remember the year 1998. Now, the most popular thing in pop culture you'd probably remember from 1998 was our president said something. He said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." And that's pretty much all we remember from 1998. There were some other good things that happened in 1998, guys, like, I was 14 years old, it was like the prime of life, right, 14? You guys remember the most popular TV show was ER? My mom used to watch that like all the time. I think that's what inspired her to become a nurse. The most popular toy at the time was Furby. That's what we were punching each other for in malls at that time. I think this is pre-Tickle Me Elmo.

Let's do some trivia on three songs, okay? Once you know the band, yell it out. Don't be afraid; we're in church, we can have fun with this, alright? So, here's one band. {sings} "All my life..." {from audience} K-Ci & JoJo. Yes! Yes, sir! Hey, gold star for you, sir. That was my jam! It was his jam, too. Him and me were jammin' at 14 to that. It is; it's a great song. How about this one: {sings} "And I don't want to miss a thing." {from audience} Aerosmith. Exactly. I'm not going to go the high note there because that'll just hurt everybody. What about this one? This was a good one. {sings} "Girls, you know you better watch out...some girls..." {from audience} Lauryn Hill. Oh, yeah! Doo-wop, right? That was some good stuff.

1998 was a great year for music, but Justin Douglas was still wearing flannel and stuck in the grunge days, okay? Grunge was my jam as a 14-year-old. I loved it. I did not read books, I listened to music, okay? My mom would take us every week, or really more often than every week, to the library, and all I would do was check out CDs. I was exposed to The Beatles. I got my first...my first listen to The Beatles was because we went to the library, and they had it on CD, and I convinced my mom to let me have it, like to let me rent it out instead of a book. And you know, whenever I did rent out a book, it was usually picture books because that was me at 14. I was not really into reading, I wanted to listen to music, then I wanted to learn how to play it on guitar. That was the way it was.

So one day in 1998, I walk into the library, and they had just got this book in. And it's important to note that my favorite band is Nirvana, okay? So, like, I have every Nirvana CD, but not really CDs, just all the singles like recorded to a tape. You know how you would be like, 'Come on, radio,' bam! Got it! Yes! No commercials! Like you know what I mean? Like how you would do that on your like tape? And I had them all hidden under my bed because I'm really not supposed to listen to that kind of music in my house. So anyway, that was the life at that time.

But I walk in, and there's this book sitting on like an end cap. Who Killed Kurt Cobain: The Mysterious Death of an Icon. I was like, 'I think I'm gonna read a book.' Like I was like, I gotta have that. So I convinced my mom to let me get it, and I read it, and it was like I read it in like two days. And you have to understand, at this point, like, reading was just not my thing. And so I read it in two days, and then I read it again in over like two weeks. And the question is like why, why at 14 years old did I find this like compelling? Certainly I was into that kind of music, I was into, you know, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and grunge music, but it's largely held, and I believed this at 14, that Cobain committed suicide. But the book asked questions like this, just even on the cover:

Why were there no legible prints found on the shotgun?

Who was using Cobain's credit card after he died?

Why were there two sets of handwriting on the notes when the handwriting analysis went through the note?

Why was there an L.A. musician who said he had been offered $50,000 to kill Cobain?

Why was that L.A. musician found dead after he made that claim?

DUN, DUN, DUN! You all want to read the book now, don't you? Like it's a great book, and so I'm sitting here like this is like, 'I'm in! I'm like, let's read this book, this is going to be great.' I was gripped, and partially because I was a Cobain fan and a Nirvana fan, but I was gripped because of something else, and this is what we've been talking about in this series: Something within us yearns for justice, yearns for wrongs to be made right. We see injustice all around us, maybe small injustices, large injustices, and we desire to know the truth, to know what really happened, so that we can make it right. We want to solve the case. We want to right the wrong. We want to illuminate the facts. You might say something within us desires to be made new because we know that the world we're in is broken and we want to participate in making it new because we were created in the image of God.

Even at 14, I can see the image of God coming out in me in my desire to say, 'Something's wrong here.' And maybe something was wrong, maybe something wasn't, I'm not going to give you my opinion on that book, but I think it's interesting that we have such a desire, a compass if you will, toward justice, toward righting wrongs. And so as we do the series Framed, what we're really talking about is we're talking about each of us go through life and we experience injustice. Maybe not on the scale that anyone intentionally actually like frames us, okay? But we have that boss who's unfair. We have those situations that we find ourselves in where we're like, this just isn't right and I'm the one shouldering all of the blow. And how do we respond to those? The interesting thing is we're highlighting four characters who went through injustice on a severe level and saying how did they respond as they encountered injustice because maybe, maybe how they responded can help us when we feel we are treated unfairly and unjustly.

So today's title is "Making an Insurrectionist." Now, I want to start first by describing what insurrection is because this is a big word. Insurrection is an act or instance of rising and revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government. The penalty for this in the time of Jesus was death. In Jerusalem, if you did this, you'd be killed. This was what the cross was invented for: insurrectionists. Other people found their way there, but it was largely for people who were trying to create disorder in order to no longer be under the control of Rome.

So, a quick history lesson because maybe this is helpful. In the year 63 B.C., Roman General Pompey conquered Jerusalem. And so you have a group of Jewish people who are now conquered. They did not slaughter everyone; that's not how Rome conquered. Rome conquered and then ruled the people. And so Julius Caesar rose to power in 45 B.C. and made Judaism an official recognized religion of Rome. They would do this as well. And here's why they would do this because they were all about all religions as long as they had an element of control within them. So the priests would have to make a sacrifice to Caesar and that would then make that another one of their many state religions. And so this is how they would conquer people. They would manipulate even their religious system, put their religious system under their control, because then you could really, really, really cause friction amongst the people that you're trying to control. And as long as they're in friction with each other, it's a lot easier to control them because they're not coming for you. So they were masters at this. Rome did this so well.

So this creates a relationship, though. The temple leaders, the religious leaders of the day, the Sanhedrin as we know them as we read through the Bible, had a relationship with the Roman authorities, and they had to be on the same page with a lot of things. Often it was Rome telling them what they needed to do, who they needed to get in line, who they needed to get in order. Or it was them coming to Rome and saying, 'This guy is about to start a rebellion; you need to take care of him,' and they would take care of him.

And so this is the relationship...mutually beneficial, yet Rome always has the upper hand. They could destroy the temple whenever they wanted. And here's the deal: if you believe God lives in a temple, if all of your worship is centered around a temple, and you have someone who's in control over you who's saying, 'You don't want to do things our way? We'll just destroy the temple.' You're going to say, 'What do we need to do?' So we have this very tense time that's...it's more nuance than we sometimes give it credit for. It's a difficult time for everyone in this region, and Jesus is born into this mess. Born into this mess that is first century Jerusalem. And so, by the way, they would end up tearing down the temple in A.D. 70 during the Jewish-Roman war.

Now, while we maybe don't know a ton about the political tension at the time, we know enough. We know there were three sects of Jews, sections of Jews. So you have the Pharisees, maybe you've heard of them before; you have the Sadducees; you have the Essenes; and then you have what some would call a fourth, which were the Zealots. Okay? And the Zealots were the ones who were like, 'We need to defeat Rome. We need to rise up against Rome; we need to defeat them.' And so what they wanted to do was they wanted to take over Rome, so they especially opposed the taxes that Rome was charging.

So you know in the Bible, if you're familiar with the Bible, there's this one part where they come to Jesus and they're like, 'Jesus, should we pay taxes?' And we just think of that as like a 'Jesus, should we pay taxes?' question. Really what it's asking is like 'What section of Judaism do you fall into? Do you fall into the Zealot section that we should like take over and kill Romans because they're taxing us so much? Do you fall over here?' And His question is like this Jedi mind trick that where he doesn't fall into any of the categories, He just says 'Who's face is on it? Oh, give it to him.' {laughs} That's...that's awesome. You know what I mean? Like Caesar's face is on it, give it to Caesar. You know? And like no one could say anything to that. That was like a we haven't...that was a different way. And Jesus is constantly presenting different ways than the way the culture thought at the time.

So these Zealots, what they would do is there were small bands of them, and they would go in with daggers into large crowds, they would find a powerful person who was in a vulnerable place, they would stab him, and leave before usually most people would know the person was dead. And this created all kinds of problems because disorder, unrest, revolt, you have high-ranking Roman officials dying, and here's the thing...the Zealots didn't care. If you were a sympathizer of Rome and you were Jewish, they would kill you. So they were killing their own people even if they had to. So this is a very tense time.

Now, in the story we're about to read, which is the story of the crucifixion which you probably maybe have heard before, we're going to go through it in a different way in a way that shows Jesus was framed. One important thing to recognize is at the time this is happening, this is Passover. It is the largest festival on the Jewish calendar. A few quick things. Most say there were about 40,000 roughly in Jerusalem and maybe 250,000 came to the town for this festival. Now here's the crazy thing...Josephus, the best Jewish historian, but a lot would argue not the best counter, argued that there was 3,000,000 in the town during this time. So somewhere between 250,000 and 3,000,000, you know, whatever, right? Not that big of a gap. But there's all these people, this influx of Jewish people, and what are they celebrating? The Passover is a celebration of when Jews were in bondage to Egypt and they were freed. They're looking for a savior; they're looking for a messiah; they're looking for someone, maybe a zealot, who's going to lead a charge and take over the Roman authority and knock 'em out.

So it's important that we recognize all of what's happening in this story is largely because of the time and place that it falls into. Control, when you have this type of a crowd, is very important because Rome was certainly outnumbered. And so what do you do if everyone all of a sudden rallies around this new rabbi on the scene? What do you do if they rally around Barabbas, who we're about to see in the story? You have to keep control, and they used the Jewish leaders to help them keep control.

So we're going to see the story. A few things to note really quick. As we go into the story, there's a lot of scripture today. Part of that is just because you can't really go through the crucifixion narrative and see all the spots where Jesus is being framed without a lot of scripture, so we're going to go through it really quick. In your bulletins, it says John 18 and John 19; we actually, we're going to do Luke 22 and Luke 23. You can read John 18 and 19. it's also the account, the same exact account, but Luke 22 and 23 was a little bit shorter, so I felt like it was better for this morning.

So, here we go. "Now the festival of unleavened bread, called the Passover, was approaching. And the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus for they were afraid of the people." See? I told you. They were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. Why? Because they're afraid of the people. They're afraid of what they might do. They're afraid of that they might rise up. Jesus has been gaining a lot of momentum, His ministry's been going for about three years. This is scary for these people in leadership. They're like, 'Hey, if there's a war with Rome, the temple may fall. We might win, but the temple might fall. Or we might win for a period of time, but let's remember, Rome is the superpower of the world. We may knock out everyone who's here, but more will come.' So they're all thinking about peace, and they're like, 'Do we need to take out Jesus in order to make this happen?'

And then it says this: "Then Satan entered Judas..." Interesting passage. We're not going to talk about all the implications of that today. "...called Iscariot, one of the twelve..." One of the twelve disciples. "And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present."

So Judas betrays Judas. Jesus even says this is going to happen at the Last Supper, He says this is going to happen. He watches for an opportunity for when Jesus is alone. Why is it important for Jesus to be alone? Because you don't want a crowd when you go to arrest a guy you're worried about who might cause a revolt. You want to do it when no one's going to be there. Again, the motive here is crowd control, fear of what might happen if He gets a following.

"So Jesus went as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed him." So as usual, it would seem like this is kind of a secret hideout. No, I don't know, maybe not a secret hideout, but a place they would go hang out. Because this was as usual they would go here. A place of solitude, a place where they would be by themselves, and Jesus is here and Judas probably knows, 'Hey, the best place at this time to find Him if they're not here, here, here is probably out here. And actually that's a really good spot because there's no one out there, He'd probably be all alone.' So night comes and they go out. Here's how it goes.

"A crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus asked him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?' When Jesus's followers saw what was going to happen, they said, 'Lord, should we strike with our swords?' And one of them, Peter, struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear." Because Peter had terrible aim with a sword. "And then Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And He touched the man's ear and healed him." He healed the person who was coming to do injustice to Him. Interesting. "Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple guards and elders who had come for Him, 'Am I leading a rebellion...'" Because that's what they're afraid of, right? "'...that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on Me. But this is your hour when darkness reigns.'"

Judas has betrayed Jesus to the point that Jesus is now arrested. He is now with Roman military being marched away as the disciples look on. Many of them are fleeing, one of them is following, and then he...if we know that story, he denies Him three times. So there's all of this unrest that happens right away within this united group of...well, not united because one had went off, but 11 and Jesus. And so think of it this way, though...how many of you have ever felt betrayed? I mean betrayed by a friend, a family member, maybe you said something in confidence and it wasn't held, maybe someone back-stabbed you, whatever you would call it. Jesus picked Judas, spent three years pouring into him as a disciple, loved him, cared for him, and Judas betrays Him. How hard is that? I gotta believe, that feeling of injustice of your friend, someone you've poured into, betraying you, is so incredibly painful.

And the pain continues, because as Jesus gets to where He's going, the men who are guarding Jesus begin mocking and beating Him. They blindfolded Him and demanded, 'Prophesy who will hit You.' And they said many other insulting things to Him. So they're mocking Jesus, they're beating Jesus, but even though Romans are brutal, which they definitely are, we have history of this, they do have a judicial process. It's certainly not always fair, I'm not going to argue that, but they did have a process. It didn't necessarily start from the position of innocence like our country tries to do, but there was a process that needed to happen. It wasn't just beat Jesus and put Him on a cross, there's like, 'We need to have a trial here. We need to make sure everything goes according to the way it needs to.' But - it's important it happens quickly because Passover's here, and we have all these people here, and they're going to find out that Jesus is in jail, and that's going to be a problem, so let's try to get this thing done like right at the crack of dawn. Let's try to make this happen when no one's looking. When the crowd is all on our side, let's try to ram this through because we don't want the people to rise up.'

"So, at daybreak, the council of elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law met together, and Jesus was led before them. 'If You are the Messiah,' they said, 'tell us.' Jesus answered, 'If I tell you, you will not believe Me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.' They all asked, 'Are You then the Son of God?' He replied, 'You say that I am.' Then they said, 'Why do we need any more testimonial? We have heard it from His own lips.'"

They have what they wanted, a claim that He has violated their law, blasphemy, and they feel like this will be enough to get Pilate on board, who's the official of that territory. And they say, 'Okay we're going to take this information to Pilate, because if we tell him He's committed blasphemy, we can convince him that this will start an insurrection.' So you don't want to mess with this, you need to take care of this. Then the whole assembly rose and led Him off to Pilate. So now He's onto the second stage, if you will, He was judged by you might say a jury of His peers, all Jewish jury, now He's being led to the real authority - Rome.

"And they begin to accuse Him saying, 'We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah and King.'" Now real quick, did Jesus say anything in that passage about wanting to subvert the nation? I guess in a sense He does. He talks about His kingdom a lot instead of the kingdom of Rome, but He doesn't say anything about taxes in this time. They're starting to throw all these new things on, trying to convince Pilate 'Hey, we need to crucify this guy.'

"So Pilate asked Jesus, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' 'You have said so,' Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, 'I find no basis for a charge against this man.' But they insisted, 'He stirs up the people all over Judea by His teachings. He started in Galilee and He has come all the way here.'" Key word 'He started in Galilee,' okay? "Because on hearing this, Pilate asked, if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction..." See, if you're Galilean, you're not under Pilate's jurisdiction, you're under Herod's jurisdiction. But Herod is in town for Passover. So he sent Him to Herod who was also in Jerusalem at the time. Pilate is in charge of this region, Herod's in charge of this region. Pilate's like, 'Okay, I don't find any basis for crucifying this guy. Why should we crucify a rabbi right in the middle of Passover? That's probably going to cause more problems than just letting Him do what He does. But I'll send Him to Herod. Let Herod deal with Him because if he wants to kill Him, then let it be on his hands' kind of type deal.

"When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased because for a long time, he had been wanting to see Him. From what he had heard about Him, he hoped to see Him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing Him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Him. Dressing Him in elegant robes, they sent him back to Pilate. That day, Herod and Pilate became friends - before this, they had been enemies."

Interesting! Jesus is reconciling all kinds of things. Right? I mean what is happening? They became friends because Jesus was sent to him, and he got the chance to mock Him and make fun of Him. But the thing is, Herod doesn't say 'I think He should die.' Herod doesn't say 'Jesus is definitely a threat to us.' Herod says, 'I'll send him back to Pilate and let Pilate make the choice.' Very interesting stuff here. But the nation bonds over this {laughs} interestingly.

"Pilate called together the chief priests," So now He's back at Pilate again. Jesus is being kind of drug around all over the place. "...the rulers, and the people and said to them, 'You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined Him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against Him. Neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; as you can see, He has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.'"

What are you punishing Him for? You're punishing Him because you're like, okay, you guys want Him to suffer some kind of pain. I'll punish Him but I'm not going to kill Him. It's not worth death, so we'll flog Him a little bit, we'll do something like that, and then we'll send Him out, and He'll be done. Isn't this interesting, historically speaking even, if you're into history at all you're sitting here like...or into politics or government, he's trying to say what's the most peaceful resolution to this? And he's a Roman. {laughs} You're like, what? That's not necessarily how they operated their government. But here, he understands that this could potentially even create more problems. So here we go.

"The whole crowd shouted, 'Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!' Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city and for murder. Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, 'Crucify Him! Crucify Him!'" These leaders. Keep in mind Pharisees and Sadducees are following God, the God that is the same God we worship. Like this is so interesting that they've come to the point where they're saying, "Release Barabbas," someone who really tried to overthrow Rome, someone who really murdered someone, probably a dagger man who has been captured and is awaiting crucifixion. Every Passover, they would release one criminal. Release him, don't release Jesus. Hold on. Aren't you concerned about insurrection? Aren't you concerned about this? Really what they're concerned about, what we really see the Jewish people are concerned about is, 'Hey, we like our safe box of who God is; Jesus is threatening that.'

How many of you have ever been around these people that are like, 'I like the way God looks here. Don't start saying this stuff out here. That's weird. That's not...' And the thing is, God's a mystery, right? I was just in a class a couple weeks ago, a BIC class that I'm in for credentialing, and in the class, the professor who led the class said, "If you're not comfortable with paradox, don't be a Christian." {laughs} That's so true!

But they don't want there to be paradox. They don't want there to be any like layers to God because Jesus is bringing about all these new layers of who God is, and that's making them very, very uncomfortable. Yet, it's freedom. Freedom for those who are in bondage to the system of religion. Right? Jesus is bringing freedom from the system of religion. And these leaders are like, 'We can't have freedom from the system of religion because we are the system of religion.'

If you're ever crossed that line where maybe you were part of a system of religion, it's so freeing, and you see these tax collectors finding freedom. You see these prostitutes finding freedom. And you see Jesus offering this to everyone, even those on the Sanhedrin, and some of them on the Sanhedrin even saying yes. This is a beautiful, beautiful thing, but the ones in power won't stand for it. They're not worried about insurrection, because if they were really worried about insurrection, they wouldn't let Barabbas out. Barabbas needs to be hanging on a cross if you're worried about insurrection. They're worried about the religion threat that this might be. The threat to their religion.

The story continues "For the third time he spoke." This is Pilate. 'Why? What crimes has this man committed? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have Him punished and I will release Him.' But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demands. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder," Barabbas, "…the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will."

Remember it's Passover week, and this crowd's getting restless. Pilate has told them over and over again that he doesn't find any grounds for Jesus to be crucified, but now he's starting to realize this situation's getting out of control. I'm losing control as I keep going back and telling them this is not a good idea to crucify this Jesus guy. So, hand Him over to them. This is what they want? Okay. I'll let Barabbas go. He pushes and pushes and pushes, but ultimately this poor carpenter turned rabbi is not a hill that Pilate wants to die on protecting Him, so he sends Jesus to a hill to die.

And this is what the passage says: "When they came to the place called The Skull," or Golgotha, "they crucified Him there along with criminals, one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.'" Let me say that again. "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.' Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.' When He had said this, He breathed his last breath. Jesus was dead."

Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is falsely accused. Jesus is wrongfully convicted by a mob jury you might say. Jesus is crucified. Death in one of the most brutal and barbaric ways. But, hanging on a tree, in the face of all this injustice, the most intimate of injustices, that one of the 12 most closest people to Him would betray Him, also systematic injustice by the political culture, and religious injustice by the same leaders that He argued with and discussed with about who God is. He suffered injustice in just about every way in like a 12-hour period, and He's hanging on this tree, and what does He say? "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Wow. Wow. Forgiveness in the face of injustice. And the question really is like how? Like how do we get there? Like, that's Jesus. That's usually what we say, right? That's Jesus. Jesus can do that; that's not me. Dude cuts me off in traffic, he's getting told he's number one. Right? So like., I mean...you guys get that, right? I'm not gonna mime it out for you, but whatever.

The point being, though, we are so quick to respond, react, to the injustice around us. Jesus here is prepared to forgive. He has what I like to call a posture of forgiveness in the way in which He goes about His life. How do we get that? Because that would transform the way we see injustice in our world if we had a posture of forgiveness and not only forgive but almost let them off the hook in saying 'They don't know what they're doing. They don't know that what they did is really hurting me and hurting you, God. Please forgive them.'

That is so hard to do, but forgiveness is central to the story of Jesus, all the way to the end. All the way to the end here. And forgiveness is central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It's interesting that for a long time I would read this passage of Jesus hanging on a cross and say that's just not possible. That's not humanly possible to forgive someone at that point.

Well, next week we're going to examine another character who was framed and continue our focus on forgiving in the face of injustice, and we're going to see that it actually is quite possible because this character does just that. But for now, for right now, so we're going to have a couple Sundays here where we're going to focus on how we forgive in the face of injustice that's done to us. How do we begin that process? But for now, remember that you are not designed to carry bitterness. You're not designed to carry the weight of unforgiveness. Injustice exists in your life in small and large scales, and it hurts at different rates. It's kind of like the pain scale when you go into the hospital...is it a 1 or a 10? All different scales, but God would have you forgive. Even the person who treated you unfairly, even the person who deeply wronged you, even the friend who stabbed you in the back, the person that lied about you, the person that even did physical harm to you, if we don't forgive, then we become bitter. And bitterness just allows the pain to have further grip on us and who we are. And Jesus here shows us another way in the face of injustice to respond. So may we have the boldness to respond with forgiveness. Let's pray.

Good and gracious God, each and every one of us have been wronged in some way, shape, or form. In this room, I am confident that some here have been deeply, deeply, deeply wronged. I pray that You would comfort us as You say You can, as You say You desire to. Bring hope to us even as we might feel hopeless in our pain, but don't allow us to become bitter. Don't allow us to drink the poison and believe it's hurting them because it's really just killing us. We were designed to forgive even in the face of injustice. So no matter how wronged we have been, no matter what the injustice, Lord, I pray that we would look to You and release that hurt to You and forgive that individual who hurt us. We know forgiveness is a process. We know it's not a light switch, it's more like a dimmer, and we're going to have good days and bad days, but God, we pray that we would feel Your love each and every step of the way. So be with us as we struggle to forgive, even more begin to root in us a posture of forgiveness; and instead of reacting in anger, reacting in frustration, we begin to react in forgiveness. It becomes our first response to wrongdoing. Show us that way, God. Teach us, mold us, shape us. May we live in this world the way You desire. In the name of Jesus, amen.