Well, Troy Davis was executed last night despite all of the protests, petitions and witnesses coming forward recanting their original statements. I will admit that I am a bit saddened by this, although I am not very surprised. Our justice system has been making a lot of mind-boggling decisions lately in my opinion. However, today I am not interested in discussing our justice system, but instead an entirely different aspect of this case, as well as another case.
Last week I watched an interview on HLN with Ms. MacPhail (the murdered policeman’s mother) and before this woman even opened her mouth, I could tell that she was angry. Her body language spoke volumes. As she began speaking, my assumption was confirmed. This was in fact a woman who was extremely angry and bitter about losing her son. Someone killed her child and someone would pay seemed to be her mindset. She wasn’t concerned the least bit about the witnesses who came forward saying that they didn’t believe that it was Troy Davis they saw at the scene of the crime. She didn’t seem concerned with the lack of evidence at all. In her heart she had already decided that this was the man who killed her beloved son and she wanted him to pay for it. I mean after all, if Troy Davis didn’t do it, who would she blame? Who would be her “scapegoat” then? Where would she direct her anger, bitterness and pain? If Troy Davis was not guilty, she would have to go through the process of re-living the entire ordeal all over again in search of the truth, which would be quite painful I’m sure.
Now, I am no analyst, but this woman obviously has not forgiven the person who is responsible for taking her son’s life. When asked by the interviewer if Troy Davis’s execution would bring her peace, she talked about possibly having closure, but no peace. She wanted Troy Davis to die so that someone else would feel the same pain that she feels. What she wanted was revenge, and she didn’t care who paid as long as someone paid (by death). She wanted (equal) payment for what was taken from her….death for death, a life for a life (Leviticus 24:17).
My heart ached for her as I watched this. Troy Davis’s death is not going to satisfy her I thought. This woman has no peace what so ever. The peace that this woman is looking for is not found in the execution of Troy Davis. True peace is not dependent on our circumstances in life, nor is it found in another person. We do not obtain peace through seeking revenge or anything else in this world for that matter. True peace is found in Jesus Christ ALONE! You see, Jesus has already paid our debt on the cross. He became the “scapegoat” for us. All of our sins were placed on Him. He gave His life to spare our lives. He died so we might live! This is where we find peace.
Philippians 4:7 ~ And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prior to seeing the interview with Annelise MacPhail, I saw another interview. The interview had nothing to do with the Troy Davis case, however it was similar. This was an interview with Mary Johnson. She is a 59-year-old mother whose 20-year-old son was murdered in 1993 by 16-year-old named Oshea Israel. Oshea was convicted of the crime, charged as an adult and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He served 17 years and is now a free man. Mary Johnson is a believer in Jesus Christ and while she was heartbroken about losing her son, she was comforted by the Lord while her son’s killer was serving time. The Lord was working on Mary’s heart and she CHOSE to forgive the man who murdered her son. One day, she felt the Lord prompting her to go visit her son’s murderer in prison, so she did. Because she had already forgiven this man in her heart, she had absolutely no feelings of resentment when she visited him (which surprised even her). In fact, both parties described the meeting as being a blessing and very healing. Mary described the meeting as being all about FORGIVENESS. The two met regularly after that. Here is what Mary said about forgiveness…
“Unforgiveness is like cancer,” Mary says. “It will eat you from the inside out. It’s not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he’s done. Yes, he murdered my son – but the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”
And that’s not the end of this story. They became very close over the next few years, so much so that when Oshea was released from prison, Mary helped him get a place to live. That place was RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HER! Unbelievable, right?!?! They are closer than ever, and she looks at him like a son. She even calls him her “spiritual son.” Oshea is working full-time, going to college and sharing his testimony with churches and prisons all over the country.
I was so blessed by hearing this story and could not keep it to myself!
Here we have two interviews, two mothers, two very similar situations, but two very different choices and totally different outcomes. God began to show me the clear difference between someone who knows Jesus and has peace vs. someone who doesn’t know Him, therefore does not have peace. Some people look at this second story and think this woman is crazy. People cannot comprehend how she could ever forgive someone who killed her son, let alone continue to have a relationship with him and even live next door to him.
I look at the story and see the power of God! Mary Johnson knows the Lord and understands just what He has done for her. She understands that although we (humans) are undeserving, Jesus Christ forgives us. She understands that we have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone else.
Romans 5:6-8 ~ For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
She understands that without the forgiveness and mercy of God, we would burn in hell. It is only by God’s grace that we are saved.
Ephesians 2:8 ~ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
When we truly realize the magnitude of what Jesus Christ has done for us, by taking our place on the cross, it makes it so much easier to forgive others (no matter what they’ve done). We can’t forgive until we have been forgiven, and without forgiveness, there is no peace!
I look at these two stories and I see one that is hopeless, full of sadness, death and unforgiveness. Nobody in the Troy Davis story wins. On the other hand, with the second story, we see an unpleasant circumstance turned around and ending beautifully. There is life, hope, peace and forgiveness in this story. What an awesome example of God’s power, love and mercy!