Cheryl McGuinness learned this secret of mercy at the foot of a strange and terrible cross. She is the widow of the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked and smashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That morning, she and her two teenage children cried and suffered at the horrible loss of Tom, her husband. In the midst of her tears, she remembered something that her husband, knowing that a pilot's job is risky, had told her long before: "If anything ever happens to me, you have to trust God. God will get you through it…” She took that to heart, but it wasn't easy. A turning point in the process came almost a year after the attack, when she went to Ground Zero to participate in the Victim Compensation Fund. When she arrived to Ground Zero, emotionally stunned, she looked into the pit where the buildings had once stood. As she looked at the remains, her eyes fixed on the only steel structure left standing. It was in the shape of a cross. She kept looking from the pit to the cross and her eyes focused on the cross. She prayed in the silence of her heart, "Lord, they killed my husband." Then she seemed to see herself at the foot of Cross, Christ's cross, on Calvary. She heard God in her heart, inviting her to forgive the terrorists who had committed this atrocity. She asked Him why, and the answer that came into her soul was: "Because I forgave you." It was a moment of grace and of spiritual clarity for Cheryl, in which she saw that although she had never committed horrible acts of terrorism, she had indeed committed sins - she had done evil. And Jesus had forgiven her. It was that she felt the inner strength she hadn't felt before, the strength to forgive her husband's murderers, `and it changed the direction of her life. God doesn't ask us to forgive on our own, but He gives us the strength to forgive by: that's the secret to learning Christian mercy.
[Information for this Illustration was garnered from