C.S. Lewis once wrote that “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” But can we really forgive an act as despicable as pumping bullets into an innocent young mother as she shields her infant child?
Well, for one family, this horrific example became a reality at the weekend, and their faith-filled response has been nothing short of heroic.
When Andre Anchondo and his wife, Jordan (née Jamrowski) were shot dead Saturday as they shopped in an El Paso Walmart, the Anchondo/Jamrowski family was struck with searing grief.
Many were anticipating that these shell-shocked family members would be looking to exact their own lethal justice upon the man who stole their son and daughter away so heinously. But they would be so very wrong — instead, this group of grieving loved ones decided to fight back with the weapon of forgiveness.
Far from seething with rage and resentment, these heroes have courageously turned to God for wisdom and grace, and have responded in a way that goes beyond the realms of human comprehension, yet points us all to the goodness of God.
“We forgive him. We honestly forgive him,” Jordan’s mom, Misti Jamrowski, told CNN just days after the tragedy unfolded. “We pray for him. We hope that he finds God because God teaches you to be loving.”
This mind-bending level of grace can be nothing but supernatural and is a perfect representation of what is written in Ephesians 4:31-32, which instructs:
“Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.”
But to read these words and actually live them is a feat of faith that many will never be able to understand.
Andre’s father, Gilbert, also chose to take the less-traveled road of forgiveness. “I forgive him because he was not in his senses,” he told the BBC. “He had the devil inside of him. I’m a great believer and I forgive what he did.”
Gilbert’s words also greatly mirror scripture. Indeed, as Jesus Christ himself hung dying on a Roman cross, He asked the Father to forgive His very executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” Christ declared, shortly before taking his final breath.
There is something utterly remarkable and, to some degree, absolutely otherworldly about forgiving someone who has caused such great harm to your family. It is not a natural response.
When I heard the news, and despite having no personal connection to these people, I felt an all-consuming sense of anger and frustration building up within me — “how could someone be so evil?” I thought, “what gives them the right to do something like this?”
Well, you can be sure that these questions were spinning around the minds of Andre and Jordan’s family when they heard the life-shattering news. Despite this, however, these two wonderful families have responded by actively leaning into God’s grace and offering it up as an antidote to evil — and we should all be immensely inspired by that.