March 29

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. . . . —Luke 23:34

My doctor had ordered a new pain patch that had amazing results. The fun-loving Roberta was back, full of pep and planning, and when I decided to go on a weekend shopping extravaganza, I asked my sister and a new friend to come along.

We had a great time, but on the dark, rainy drive home, my new patch fell off. Not realizing it would lessen its effectiveness, I secured the old (and very expensive) one to my arm with some adhesive tape. It wasn't long before I had a violent headache and was pulling off the side of the road. My sister took over the driving and I curled up in the backseat.

Soon I heard my friend remark to my sister, as if I wasn't there, "We're never going to get home at this rate. Does she get any worse than this? I don't know how you stand it." Her words hurt me in a place down deep that I didn't know existed. I'd planned our trip down to the tiniest detail, tiptoed to the hotel kitchenette each morning to brew a pot of coffee and brought a cup with a cinnamon roll to my friend's bedside, carried her packages when her arms got tired.

Then seemingly out of the blue, Jesus' words, spoken from the Cross, flashed into my mind: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." It was as if I were hearing them for the first time. Of course! My friend couldn't know what I was going through—she'd never been ill herself. And maybe she hadn't meant to be unkind but was just frustrated, or even scared.

When I got back to work, I printed that Scripture on an index card and taped it inside my desk drawer. It never fails to take my eyes back to the Cross, to a forgiveness beyond my understanding.

What freedom there is, Lord, in Your model of forgiveness in the midst of pain.

—Roberta Messner