Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
People do not always act in accordance with the way they feel. A circumstance can often illicit a response that inaccurately portrays our true feelings. This is one reason it is important to be kind and tenderhearted, always ready to look past a slight and forgive. This lesson hit home to me one dark evening a few years ago.
It was a beautiful summer night. The cool air gave relief from the heat of the day and drew us into our evening walk. Dad and I set out down the road followed by our old dog, Maggie. She also felt the alleviation from the stifling heat and rose from her place on the back porch to follow us. As Dad and I talked about the day, Maggie occupied herself with the things that dogs do – sniffing the side of road for the illusive scent of a previous canine traveller, cocking her ear to listen to the night sounds in the woods by the creek, and finally disappearing into the trees to investigate the evening wildlife.
As we turned at the bridge to return home we saw the reflection of lights coming down the road. At the moment the car reached us, Maggie, tired of her search, bounded out of the woods to take her place at our heels. She chose the very moment the car was passing to dart across the road. The squealing of wheels and the heart-wrenching thump told the story in one split second. I screamed and ran to the shadow of black fur that lay on the side of the road.
Reaching my shivering girl I quickly surveyed the situation. I extended my hand to give comfort but instantly withdrew as the pain of sharp teeth penetrated my skin. Maggie, in her pain and confusion, snapped at the one who was trying to help. Her reaction brought blood to the surface and more pain to my heart.
I have thought about that night many times in the ensuing years. Why would our pet bite me when I was only trying to help? It was because she didn’t know what had hit her. As she lay suffering she was on guard. In the dark my approach was mistaken for the enemy that had caused her pain. But when I spoke kindly to her, she recognized my voice, relaxed, and allowed Dad to lift her into our truck, which he had run home to get.
Humans are no different in this regard. Often, when experiencing hurt, an injured person lashes out at loved ones. The confusion of their pain sometimes illicits a reaction that does not convey what they really feel towards those who love them and want to help. Forgiveness and kindness in these situations goes a long way. I know because I have often “bitten” others when I’ve been grieving, and I’ve been grateful for those who have understood and granted me forgiveness.
With a little love and tender care our Maggie recovered fully from her accident. Her injuries, consisting of only a few bumps and bruises, quickly healed and soon she was up and running around as usual. My hand also healed without leaving a scar, but the memory of a lesson learned was forever in my heart. Those who are hurt will often “bite” but forgiveness and kindness cover a multitude of sins.