November 30, 2016058
SOMETHING I find very hard to do is to forgive. I try but fail, and have realized that forgiveness, real forgiveness can only happen with God’s help. In the midst of tragic fighting in Lebanon in the 1970’s, a seminary student was walked from one village to the next when he was ambushed by an armed guerrilla fighter.
The man ordered his captive down a mountain trail where he was to be shot. But an amazing thing happened. The seminarian who had received military training, was able to surprise his captor and disarm him. Now, the table was turned, and it was the guerrilla who was ordered down the trail.
As they walked, however, the student of theology began to reflect on what was happening. Recalling the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, turn the other cheek,” he found he could go no further. He threw the gun into the bushes, told the man he was free to go and turned back up the hill.
Minutes later, he heard footsteps running behind him as he walked. “Is this the end after all?” he wondered. Perhaps the man had retrieved the gun and wanted to finish him off. But he continued on, never glancing back, until his enemy reached him, only to grab him in an embrace and pour out thanks for sparing his life. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Corrie Ten Boom lived when Hitler began his killing of the European Jews.
Thousands of Jews were gassed to death. She was put in a concentration camp, stripped naked and made to walk before the leering guards. She was beaten, kicked, starved, crushed and broken. Corrie survived the atrocities, sustained by her faith in Christ.
After the war was over Corrie was released. She gave speeches on God’s forgiveness. One day while speaking she suddenly saw the face of a man very familiar to her and immediately the memory of the shameful treatment meted out by him to her in the concentration camp surfaced. As she stood the man came to Corrie and extended his hand to her and said, “Fraulein, thank you for the message of forgiveness. You talked about concentration camps. I was in charge of one of those. I have accepted God’s forgiveness. But now, I need your forgiveness too.”
Corrie froze with horror. Just a few minutes ago, she had preached on forgiveness, and now she was unable to forgive! She prayed for the strength and the will to forgive. No sooner had she prayed than she felt an overwhelming power rush through her system.
She grasped the extended hand of the former Nazi guard. “Brother,” she cried, “I forgive you, with all my heart…!Learn to forgive, it’s like a cloud lifting from you, as you live joyously..!