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Trapped miners in Peru and forgiveness

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A rescued miner is escorted outside the mine Cabeza de Negro where he was trapped since April 5, in Ica, April 11, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Mariana Bazo)

What do these four stories have in common?  Miners trapped for six days in a Peruvian copper mine finally walked free on Wednesday.  The youngest of the miners says, “Inside, we prayed, we cried.  We also cried with our relatives outside who were desperate.”  Now they have returned to those relatives, answering their prayers and making global headlines.

A baby in Argentina was found alive after spending 10 hours in a morgue refrigerator.  Luz Milagros Veron weighed one pound 12 ounces at her premature birth.  Doctors could find no signs of life, so they pronounced her dead.  Her father later wanted a picture with her, so morgue officials opened her coffin and heard a cry.  “I can’t explain what happened.  Only that God performed a miracle,” he says.

American Idol‘s judges “saved” Jessica Sanchez last night.  She was widely considered the best singer in the competition.  When she received the fewest votes, Jennifer Lopez led Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler onstage to keep her in the contest while the audience roared its approval.

North Korea’s rocket launch splintered into pieces soon after takeoff this morning.  Communist leaders had invited dozens of international journalists to the event, defying global calls to cancel the launch.  Now their rocket failure is being called a “major embarrassment” for them and is no small source of satisfaction to their critics.

We applaud when good wins and evil loses.  What does our celebration of fair play say about us?  Apparently we still retain a sense of right and wrong even in this day of relative ethics and subjective truth.  Just watch what happens when someone thinks he or she has been treated unfairly.  I’m grateful for evidence of objective morality, but we can take this sense of justice and injustice too far.

In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis imagines this advice from a demon to a fellow tempter: “Men are not angered by mere misfortune but my misfortune conceived as injury.  And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.  The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured.”  How many “claims on life” have you been induced to make?

Contrast our demand for fairness and justice with Jesus’ intercession for his executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  Indira Gandhi believed that “forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.”  Mahatma Gandhi (no relation) agreed:”The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

And it benefits the one who forgives as much as the one who is forgiven.  Ethicist Lewis Smedes believed that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  What injustice do you need to forgive today?