[This post is the first in a series of devotions on forgiveness that I first published last year in a leaders' devotional booklet, "Disciplines" from The Upper Room. This is based on the parable of the prodigal that is found in Luke 15:1-3 & 11-19]
Parables are pluralistic. They are like Mexican pinatas. Filled with treasures, they are prodded and poked. When they break open, they contain treasures. The gifts are diverse and appeal to different tastes and interests. Consequently they are always old and ever new because the one who hears is ever changing and is always in a different place.
One of the treasures of this parable is it’s revelation of disappointment and loss. The father in charge of the family had a plan. But, the son who asked for his inheritance early (thus implying that his father had already died to him) threw a monkey wrench in that plan. His son had a different idea about how life was to turn out. This would be deeply disappointing to the father.
This disappointment is not unlike our experiences. Our dreams and plans are good, but often they don’t work out. Change seems to be stalking the edges of our life’s designs. Our hard work to secure a future that we want is often rewarded with disappointment and grief. Change is the one constant that we can count on in life so loss is the consistent reality.
This reality often burdens our moving forward into the future. The father in the parable was undoubtedly saddened and struggled to stay on an even keel. His dreams were shattered as his heart was broken by his son’s leaving.
We too experience such loss and grief in our lives. We are disappointed when life doesn’t turn out the way we think it should. Moving beyond the pain of the losses of the past requires that we open ourselves to the forgiving spirit of God’s love. If we cannot grieve the losses and accept the freeing forgiveness for the future, the weight of that ungrieved loss will break us. What loss do you need to name and grieve?
Hear my pain, O God, and give me courage to face my disappointment.