How many of us have wounds that need healing?

The great people featured in Justice for All have shown us how injustices can be overcome—in our own lives and, on a grander scale, in the world. They have much to teach us. Nelson Mandela gives us an amazing example of how healing forgiveness can be. His life is an inspiration.

Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner, all that time not letting go of his passion to free his country from apartheid rule.

When he was finally released in 1990, Mandela did not succumb to bitterness. All he could think about was the healing of his country and bringing old enemies—the blacks and the whites—together to rebuild in a common cause.

Mandela will be remembered to have lived and died, loving, and forgiving. Instead of thinking revenge and retribution for what the white South Africans had done to him and his people, he chose to forgive the apartheid regime and underlined that, “ The time for the healing of the wounds has come.”

If you were a black South African like him, having lived with atrocities at the hands of those who had taken over your nation, how would you feel?

And, in your own life with mental illness or other disability, have you ever been treated badly by people who thought you were less worthy because you were different?

Some of us have been hurt in ways that have damaged us and seem unforgivable. Even when we forgive, memories re-appear, and before we know it, we have to forgive all over again. We never find freedom from the pain.

After apartheid, things did not always run perfectly for South Africa either. But is perfect peace ever possible with us human beings? I know one thing: We need to stay close to Jesus and take comfort in knowing that he understands our pain full well.

In South Africa, forgiveness enabled transformation of relationships, positive change, and peace. Mandela had a strong belief in empathy and honesty. He believed in the importance of dialogue as a power that could heal the deepest wounds. [Yes. Dialogue would be best. Why is dialogue so hard to come by?]

His graciousness towards those who had oppressed his people and caused him to spend 27 years in prison, won the admiration of South Africans and people around the world.

If Mandela was able to accomplish such great changes and such peace in his country, surely forgiveness would be able to work wonders in our lives as well. Mandela says this: “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear.”