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Lenten Devotional, March 9: By Pat Hardesty

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” -- Mark 9:24

It used to seem pretty easy to follow Jesus’ words on forgiveness and judging others:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me,  and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” -- Matthew 18:21-22 

and

“Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” -- Luke 6:37

It used to seem pretty easy to believe that Jesus knew what He was talking about. 

We certainly often sing about forgiveness, as the Sanctuary Choir did at the recent Main Street Choral Festival -- an arrangement of the Prayer of St. Francis, “it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” And, every Sunday in worship when we pray the Lord’s Prayer -- “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” 

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” 

As I age, I think I am getting angrier, more judgmental, and less forgiving. I am very surprised by this. I always thought maturity would bring out the best in me and others. In many instances I fear that hate is about to overtake love. I found this Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation about a year ago, and it will be my touchstone during the Lenten season: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

I pray that we can all lay down our burdens, and that if I remember to stick with love, forgiveness will be more of a possibility.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Pat Hardesty


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