[by Dean Smith] Shaquille Hairston, 21, works the late shift at a hotel in Euclid, Ohio. On June 3, he caught the bus home late that night, as he usually did. When Hairston got off at a stop near his home, a man who was also on the bus slipped off as well.
After the bus departed, the man approached Shaquille on the dark, deserted street, pulled out a gun and demanded money.
In an interview with Cleveland’s Fox News, Shaquille said when he told the man he didn’t have any cash, the robber hit him on the head with his gun.
“He raised the gun up and he was like ‘I’ll shoot you, I’m not playing with you man.’ I’m just like, ‘So ok.'”
Shaquille quickly handed over his wallet and phone.
But he did one more thing. Believing he might be killed on the street, Shaquille began praying out loud. He said:
“Because even if that was going to be my last night living, I wanted to go out knowing that God was with me and I had God on my mind, and if I did go, I would be with Him when I wake up on the other side.”
Shaquille not only prayed for the gunman, but even prayed for the man’s family. At this point, the thief became flustered and confessed he was unemployed and this was his first robbery.
When the man opened up about his difficulties, Shaquille offered to help the man and even invited him to church. Overwhelmed by the turn of events, the gunman apologized and returned the wallet and phone, then fled.
Later Shaquille told reporters that the robbery happened for a reason. He believed God wanted him to reach out to this thief. He said he forgave the robber and added:
“My concern has been on him, and that God will touch his heart and tender his heart so he won’t even feel that he has to do that.”
I look at what this young man did and only hope I could do the same in similar circumstances. But I believe Shaquille also shared a vital key to unlocking forgiveness.
Jesus told His disciples to forgive stating that if we are unwilling to forgive, God won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:15).
Forgiveness is a choice. But sometimes the betrayal is so severe, the emotions so strong, that we choke on any thought of forgiving the person who hurt us. It seems impossible. Sometimes, we don’t want to release them from the hurt they caused.
At these moments, may I suggest offering a brief prayer for the person instead, just like Shaquille did.
A few verses before Jesus said we are to forgive, the Lord told us to pray for our enemies:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44 King James)
It may be easier to pray for a person than forgive them and I believe a simple prayer releases our emotions so we can then forgive them.