Forgiveness is a difficult thing, especially when it comes to forgiving someone who caused the death of a loved one.
Many of us might hope we’d be able to do it — forgive amidst tragedy. But when it comes right down to it, would we have the strength to have grace for someone who wronged us so deeply?
One family has shown what it looks like to truly forgive. On July 31, 2016, their beloved son and daughter, along with their three small children, were killed in a crash involving a semi-truck in a construction zone in Nebraska.
Jamison and Kathryne Pals were only 29 at the time, traveling to Colorado for missionary training. Their children, Ezra, Violet, and Calvin were all 3 years of age and under.
The accident also took the life of 56-year-old Terry Sullivan from Denver, Colorado. Tony Weekly was the man behind the wheel of the truck, and his distracted driving is said to be the blame for the crash.
It’s been 2 years since Weekly was charged. The parents of both Jamison and Kathryne have grieved over the loss of their children, as any parents would.
But their message for Weekly during the sentencing on July 20 was not one of revenge or bitterness. Instead the family wanted to extend the grace they themselves have received.
“I know how much God has forgiven me. How can I not forgive you?” Rick Pals, Jamison’s father, said during the sentencing. “I am not in the position of authority to extend you mercy, Tony, however I can request mercy for you.”
Gordy Engel, Kathryne’s father, also said, “We ask the court to give the maximum allowable grace.” Despite the fact that this family has every reason to desire punishment for Weekly, they have chosen the higher road.
Though 5 to 9 years in prison was recommended for the truck driver, he ended up with the grace and mercy requested for him by this grieving family.
He left the court with a much more lenient sentence of 2 years probation and 180 days in jail. But the grace didn’t stop there.
At the end of it all, Pals hugged Weekly. “I’ll leave you with those three words: Forgiveness, Mercy, Hope,” he said.
Since their tragic passing in 2016, a foundation was set up in Kathryne and Jamison’s honor. As they were formerly missionaries training for a trip to Japan, the foundation was set up with the purpose of reaching people in Japan for Christ.
No doubt if Jamison and Kathryne were here now, they’d be proud of their parents for extending the grace they wanted to share with the world.
What a sad but beautiful story of love, hope, and the power of forgiveness.
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