Far Horizons of Forgiveness

By Ed Chinn
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
Our life has been shaped in part by people, groups and ideologies which we will never see or understand.

The condition of our life has been shaped in part by people, groups and ideologies which we will never see or understand. Regardless of who or where you are, the life you are living has been curtailed or diluted by forces which are historical, global, invisible and inaccessible.

For example, many people feel accused and violated every time they fly because of the security checks at the gate. And, they have to endure that humiliated matrix because of nothing they did. It is inflicted on them because of terrorism and bureaucracy and they will probably have to submit to this systemic insult every time they fly for the rest of my life. And, they did nothing to cause it. Injustice is the most difficult thing to embrace.

Accused and Violated

On a much larger scale, how do African-Americans forgive the pervasive and unrelenting culture of racism which killed, raped and robbed their ancestors and created an exclusive, elitist and often unresponsive power structure which continues to this day?

These are very tough issues; they trace the far horizons of organized cruelty and injustice. How does forgiveness play out in the context of these hidden sources and offenders? When you cannot face the one who injured you and constricted your borders, how do you forgive? Is it even possible to walk away from such overwhelming injustice? How would a Jewish father ever transcend the memory of his daughter being torn from his arms and sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz?

I recently sat beside a woman on a long airline flight. I was tired; she wanted to talk. She won. In the course of her opening up her life, she revealed the searing pain of her husband’s cruel rejection and the trauma of divorce. She talked about it for more than an hour.

Asking Forgiveness on Another’s Behalf

When she finished, I said very spontaneously, “As a man, I am sorry you had to suffer this injustice. I despise what he did; he violated who you are. But, he is not here and I am. So, I’m asking you to forgive me on his behalf.”

Tears filled her eyes. She said, “I didn’t know I needed to hear that until this moment. I accept your apology and I forgive you.”

As those who are forgiven, we are free and empowered to be agents of forgiveness. It does not matter that we are not the specific offending party. If we represent them at all, we should ask forgiveness. The prophet Daniel repented for things he had not personally done. He represented others in going before God to ask forgiveness.

Asking Forgiveness for Another Generation

I once asked an African-American friend to forgive me for what white people have thought, believed and done. I broke down in a very public place – for a moment I felt like I stepped into the sin which had abused and oppressed so many. I personally identified with it and was more reviled by it than ever in my life. My apology groaned up out of my guts. And, he broke down, wept and forgave me.

Don’t Walk in a “P.C.” Culture

Don’t misunderstand; we should not live in some politically correct posture of running up to people and asking their forgiveness. But, as we sense “the moment” of redemptive grace and invitation from the Lord, I believe we should always be ready to serve as an agent of forgiveness.

I can and must forgive the 9-11 hijackers and others unseen, unknown and unreachable because I choose to give up all hope for a better past. Giving it up is not at all to condone it. But it does release me to walk beyond the reach of what they did.

Forgiveness also releases me to live beyond my own capacities and walk in the everlasting provision of the One who does for me what I cannot do for myself.

Copyright 2008 Ed Chinn. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Ed Chinn

Ed Chinn, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, is a writer and speaker. His work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, OpinionJournal.com, and the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.