On 22 May 2017 a suicide bomber killed 23 people and injured more than 1000 others at the Manchester Arena, in the deadliest terror attack in UK history. The inquiry into the attack reported in February 2023. It concluded that the British security service MI5 had missed an opportunity which might have prevented the attack. A spokesman for MI5 offered an apology on behalf of the service.
Responding to the inquiry’s report, the mother of one of the attack’s victims declared, “Those that played any part in the murder of our children will never, ever get forgiveness. From top to bottom, MI5 to the associates of the attacker, we will always believe that you all played a part in the murder of our children.”
The grief and pain suffered by the bereaved parents is almost unimaginable, and no one would want to underplay that. But here is something the Bible says about forgiveness:
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Psalm 37:8). It is a fact that nursing grievances and refusing to forgive causes mental stress. Forgiveness can be hugely difficult, but to let go of bitterness is to let go of a weight that drags us down and saps our wellbeing.
And for the follower of Christ, forgiveness is not an option: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). A fundamental principle of the Gospel is that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). We are all sinners, every one of us, and God gave His Son to die so that we can be forgiven.
Forgiveness is at the very heart of the Christian life. It enables us to come to God.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).
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