Mark 11:25 (New International Version)
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Photographer Nick Ut received a Pulitzer Prize for a dramatic war-time picture taken in Viet Nam. You may remember seeing it. The picture shows a little girl in agony walking naked down a country road amongst other weeping children. Dark smoke hangs heavily in the sky behind the fleeing group. The child's arms are painfully outstretched and her face is contorted in an expression of terror and misery. A Napalm bomb, dropped on her village, seared off the little girl's clothing and severely burned her skin.
The date is June 8, 1972. The child, Kim Phuc, was carried by Nick to a truck and transported to an area hospital. She cried over and over, "Non'g Qu'a. Non'g Qu'a," which means "Too hot! Too hot!"
Kim hovered between life and death. She required 17 different surgical operations and months of rehabilitation. Today, she lives in Canada and has become an important spokesperson on issues of peace. "Pain never disappears," Kim says. "You just learn how to deal with it."
In 1996 she was asked to say a few words at the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington D.C. Kim talked about forgiving those people who were responsible for all the misery and suffering inflicted that tragic day. She said, "Even if I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the bombs, I would tell him we cannot change history but we should try to do good things for the present and for the future to promote peace." It was a message of forgiveness. She knew that her acts of reconciliation were the bricks that could pave the only true road to peace.
Kim could easily spend the rest of her life blaming others for her suffering. She could have grown up a bitter and resentful woman. Instead, she made a courageous choice - a choice for peace.
It's a choice none of us can escape.
Dear Lord we pray that we would be forgiving to those around us. We thank You that when we don't hold a grudge we can have peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.