Chaplaincy | Passing forgiveness ondeveloper
On February 1st, 2020, Danny and Leila Abdallah were struck by tragedy.
Three of their children were part of a group that was walking down Bettington Road in Oatlands – on their way to get ice cream – when a speeding, drunk and drug-affected driver lost control of his ute, mounted the kerb, and crashed into them.
Antony (age 13), Angelina (age 12), and Sienna (age 8) were killed instantly, along with their cousin Veronique (age 11).
The deaths of the three Abdallah children and their cousin shocked our nation, but what was even more shocking was the way in which the Abdallah parents very quickly said that they forgave the driver of the vehicle and refused to hate him.
You may recall Leila Abdallah, the children’s mother telling the media:
“I know the guy… was drunk, driving on the street. Right now I can’t hate him. And I don’t want to see him… I don’t hate him. I think in my heart I forgive him, but I want the court to be fair. It’s all about fairness. I’m not going to hate him because that’s not who we are.”
Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful virtues in life, but it’s also one of the most painful.
When you forgive someone you are choosing to bear the cost of their actions, to absorb the pain and carry it without holding it against them.
In some cases, this can take an entire lifetime, and the decision to forgive is one that has to be revisited and renewed every time the hurt resurfaces.
When people ask Leila Abdallah how she forgives, she points them to her Christian faith.
“If it wasn’t for my faith, I wouldn’t be standing where I am today,” she says.
“Forgiveness is essential to us Christians.”
And she’s right.
Forgiveness is at the very heart of the Christian faith.
When Jesus taught his followers what we now know as The Lord’s Prayer, he taught them to ask their heavenly Father to “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Sometime later, when Peter, one of Jesus’ followers asked him how often he should forgive, he thought Jesus would be impressed by his suggestion that seven times might be enough.
Jesus looked at him and replied, “Not seven, but seventy times seven.”
He was essentially saying, never stop forgiving.
Jesus was all about forgiveness.
He spoke about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you, and it wasn’t just talk either.
As Jesus himself suffered at the hands of his own enemies, as he was tortured and put to death by those who persecuted him, he loved them and prayed for them with those now famous words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus’ death resulted in forgiveness not just for them, but for everyone who’s ever failed to love God or love others, which, if we’re honest, includes us too, and everyone who’s ever lived.
This is why the New Testament continually calls Jesus’ followers to be people who forgive.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians, writes:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Paul was acknowledging that Christians are (or at least, are meant to be) people who are aware of their own flawed humanity, who recognise how much they themselves rely on forgiveness, and who, as a result, take a drop out of the bucket of forgiveness they’ve received from Jesus and pass it on to others.
There’s a saying that ‘hurt people hurt people’.
In Christian faith, ‘forgiven people forgive people’.
View the full talk below.
Nathan Lee | Assistant Chaplain