How can you forgive someone who tried to take your life, and the life of your daughter?
Ray Norman shares his powerful account of love and forgiveness in the face of violent extremism.
Ray and his family lived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania where he served as a director of World Vision when the 9/11 terrorist attack happened in America. Shortly after the attack, Ray and his daughter were heading to the beach when a man started shooting at them. Ray was shot in the arm and his daughter, Hannah, was shot in the chest.
Ray was able to drive himself and his daughter to safety, and they survived the brutal assault.
A strong family with a strong faith, the Normans were able to heal and once they recovered from the shooting they returned to their ministry. What’s more, they were even able to forgive the man who did this to them.
But what about right after the shooting had occurred?
Was Ray angry at God for what had just happened to not only himself, but to his daughter as well?
Was there any regret for this dangerous ministry that he had signed up for?
Ray’s powerful answer: no.
“Anger was never part of the very complex equation of all that was going on inside of me.”
He explains that as Christians we must come to terms with God’s call for our life, no matter what that call may be.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of coming to terms with God’s call on your life. He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him, and when we do that we then have to trust Him. I’m not saying that’s easy, but that is what He calls us do.”
Ray isn’t just talking the talk here; as he drove his bleeding daughter to the hospital he put his trust in God.
“…when this crisis happened, when I looked at my daughter and I thought I’d lost my daughter, yes, as a father, I was heartbroken and it was heart wrenching, but my trust was still in God. I knew God had called me there; I was never in doubt of that.”
This unwavering trust in God took anger out of the equation. So what was he thinking?
“…deep disappointment, a feeling of being heartbroken, and also I remember I was worried. I was thinking ‘Is this the end of my opportunity to serve in this country? Is it over? Is it finished? Lord this is too soon.’ Those are all the jumbled thoughts and emotions that were going through my head at the time.”
It’s amazing to see how Ray’s faith remained strong even during the scariest experience of his life and how God healed him afterwards. It can be difficult to trust God when things go wrong, especially if we’re doing what we believe He’s called us to do. But we need to remember that we don’t know the big picture of His plan. That is where the trust comes in, but it’s not a blind trust, either. We trust in the promise that every part of God’s plan is for the ultimate good, and that it’s promise that we know won’t be broken.
Key Scripture: Psalm 57:9-10
Featured Songs: Press On by Mandisa; Take Another Step by Steven Curtis Chapman; Amazed (By You) by Lincoln Brewster