By Debra Whittington: Local columnist
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:1-3, 9-10, 14, 17, 19-21
On the news was a young lady from Georgia who had incredible courage and was able to endure a frightening experience. She was held hostage by a man who shot and killed four people in a courtroom the day before and had nothing to lose by killing yet another person. During the ordeal he even told her that he was already dead and his state of mind at the time made him a time bomb waiting to explode.
Put into the same situation, I am sure many people would fall apart screaming and begging for mercy. Yet while this young woman was frightened, she remained as calm as possible as she talked to her captor and ask him questions. She tried to encourage him to let her go, as she didn¹t want her little girl to grow up without a mommy after losing her daddy four years prior.
All of this in itself is a pretty amazing story of amazing courage, but where did that courage come from? It was what the newscaster said next that gave a clue.
As he was telling the story, he mentioned that one of the things the woman did was read the Bible to her captor and tell him that God loved him. Nothing was said about how he responded to this revelation, but
evidently it had impact as he let the woman go, unharmed the next morning.
I heard about another woman who did an amazing thing this weekend. Her parents were brutally murdered the week before in a senseless act related to drugs. These were good, God-fearing people who never harmed anyone. There was no reason why they had to lose their lives and their deaths affected so many people. What did their daughter do that was so amazing? She forgave the people who killed her parents. How I admire her faith and trust in God that she would be able to forgive. It was by the power of God that she would be able to do such a thing. Now that these wonderful people are gone, others are convinced that something good will come from their deaths and they cite Romans 8:28 which states ³And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.²
In an average person¹s life it is impossible or at the most extremely difficult to do things like these two women did, but we know they had help from the Holy Spirit. It isn¹t in our own strength that we can have courage when facing death or forgiveness for someone the world thinks doesn¹t deserve it.
Every time I hear stories like these my faith is strengthened because of what God through the Holy Spirit is doing in this world. Because we live in an evil world, evil things are going to happen either to us or to someone we know. Still we know the eventual outcome of this world because of what Jesus taught in John 16:33: ³These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.²