“That’s not fair!” Those are nearly the first words out of a baby’s mouth after “Mama” and “Dada”. Nothing runs deeper in our psyches, and no one ever had a more profoundly justified reason to say, “That’s not fair!” than Jesus on the cross.
He sounded like a victim when he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was quoting verse 1 of Psalm 22. For 20 more verses that Psalm goes on as the appeal of a desperate victim.
Then it suddenly flips from, “Save me from the horns of the wild oxen” (v. 21) to, “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you” (v. 22). Nothing in the circumstances changed between those two verses, but nothing from there on sounds like a victim, all the way to the final triumphant line that Jesus also quoted, “It is finished” (v. 31).
Laws, movements, and revolutions, noble as some may be, only aim at changing the victim’s circumstances. Jesus’ unfair death changes the victims themselves. Before the circumstances change, before the wounds begin to heal, the victim is already free to declare by faith that God is faithful. In other words, freedom does not depend on preventing wounds or ending injustice, abuse, or betrayal. It depends entirely on trust in God no matter what.
The trusting victim is also free to forgive the victimizers, even before they realize what they are doing or begin to apologize for it. In other words, the “victim” still has the upper hand! The victim is still taking the initiative God wants instead of letting the evil of the victimizers push his or her buttons and cause an evil reaction. Those buttons are disconnected.
The cross is often seen as the source of our forgiveness, which it certainly is, but we also need to realize that by setting us free from the victim mentality, the cross has freed us from the most basic driver of our own sin problem. That is the part of us that says, “The thing that defines me is the unfair thing that is being done or was done to me.” The person who thinks this way is ripe for a sinful reaction to the victimizer, and will justify every bit of it.
That person has never really seen the cross, where the ultimate victim showed nothing of the victim mentality. He justifies us by his wounds, and we don’t justify our sinful reactions to unfairness any more. We are healed.
Affirmation: No matter what has been done to me or who did it, I forgive because of Christ’s cross. My wounds will not define me any more. His will.
Prayer: Lord, heal my wounds through yours. I can’t understand that, but please make it work anyway.