Last week the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that local prosecutors withdrew the death penalty for 22-year-old Mike Portaro's killer. The reason? Mike's mother said she didn't want to see the man die.
Cynthia Portaro has plenty of reasons to be angry and bitter. Her son wasn't doing anything wrong when he was killed. Instead he was selling tickets to his group's upcoming show outside an area restaurant. Five months after Mike was killed, Cynthia's daughter was killed in an ATV crash. Her husband died last year on Thanksgiving Day.
Yet Cynthia told reporter David Ferrara last week that she feels "no hatred, animosity, anger. Because if you live in Christ, you cannot live with those things." Mike's shooter had already apologized to her. She didn't want or need anything more.
I've never met Cynthia Portaro, but I admire her determination to forgive others no matter what. She doesn't say she's gotten over her son's death but rather that she's gotten through it. And in the process of getting through her grief, Cynthia chose to forgive—no matter what her son's killer had taken from her.
Oswald Chambers called forgiveness "the divine miracle of grace." Because God is the ultimate forgiver, He gives us grace to choose forgiveness no matter what people have done to us. No matter what pain and heartache they've caused. No matter what the other person might deserve in terms of justice. No matter what apology we may or may not have received. No matter how hard it is to put a wrongdoer's needs above our own.
When I read the article about Cynthia Portaro, I thought of Jesus' words on the cross. Jesus looked at the guards who had beaten Him and nailed Him to the cross, and He asked God to forgive them (Luke 23:34). There was no apology, no cessation of pain. Yet Jesus forgave. Would we have done that?
If Easter is nothing else, it is a reminder that God has forgiven us of every sinful thought and deed through Jesus' death on the cross. God forgave us because of His love and mercy, and in the power of His love, we too can offer forgiveness to others, no matter what.
Friday - March 13, 2015