The Power of Forgiveness & the NFL Star Who Almost Killed His Son

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I want you to know that as I am writing this, I am burning.  I have read this spellbinding, hard-to-read essay from Thomas Lake of Sports Illustrated about how a famous football player named Rae Carruth killed his baby’s mother, Cherica Adams. I have watched the video above which shows you the people involved (HT: JT).  There is nothing left to do now but smolder.

You see that boy’s beatific smile; you hear his mother’s dying words; you watch the father swallow hard as he says he didn’t arrange for the murder of Adams which left Chancellor, his son, his progeny, permanently disabled.  After seeing and reading things like these, there is little one can do but groan.  Not in the fleeting way.  The way the ancient Hebrews did: by lying in ashes, as if one could physically inhale the horror of sin and so come face to face with it.  The story by Lake is one of the hardest pieces to read that I’ve come across.  That’s because 1) it is so awful and 2) Lake is a poet who happens to write for SI.

Incredibly, though, in real life and in Lake’s telling, there is another element: forgiveness.  Saundra Adams, mother of the slain woman, has forgiven two men: the shooter and the man who arranged the shooting (Carruth).  There’s something in those acts that goes beyond words.  It shows that as much as evil may make us gasp when we look at it honestly, there is an infinitely stronger force in this world, a force that banishes evil, masters it, and makes a mockery of it.  Yes, it takes sin and makes a fool of it, because it shows it ultimately must give way.  It has no sting.

Forgiveness, we remember, is at its peak linked indissolubly in the Scripture to death.  The highest acts of forgiveness come when the price of death is paid.  Somehow, despite walking with Christ our Savior for years, that can seem academic.  Then you read and watch material like this, and you are reminded that it is not.  Death is real.  Forgiveness is too.

It is stronger than death.  And it has overcome death.

  • Paul D. Adams

    Powerful indeed!
    I’m reminded of the last chapter of N.T. Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God in which he notes that forgiveness is not only a healing power but the reigning power over evil. And so, “the continuing presence and power of evil in the present world cannot blackmail the new world and veto its creation because the power of forgiveness, organically linked to the power of Jesus’ resurrection, is precisely that it enables both God and God’s people to avoid the imposition of other people’s evil” and “the faculty we have for receiving forgiveness and the faculty we have for granting forgiveness are one and the same thing. If we open the one we shall open the other. If we slam the door on the one, we slam the door on the other.”

    See my post here on reflections from Wright, Brauns, and Volf.