After World War Two Corrie ten Boom travelled the world with the message of forgiveness. She followed God’s call to Germany many times, to a people who desperately needed her message. In the audience at one of her meetings she saw the familiar face of a former prison guard. She remembered his cruelty, how her sister Betsy, frail and weak had died while both were imprisoned at Ravensbruck.
The man came forward after Corrie’s message. “Will you forgive me Fraulein?” He held his hand out. Corrie remembered that hand swinging a leather crop. The last thing she wanted to do was forgive him.
“Jesus help me,” she prayed silently. Woodenly, she stretched her hand toward his. “As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being. . . I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
“I forgive you brother,” the words came straight from her heart.
Perhaps you’ve been mistreated by a parent or boss, an unfaithful mate or critical teacher. Others may have misunderstood your motives, maligned you. A friend may have turned into an enemy. This happens even in church. Kind acts are repaid with cruelty. The same God-help that was available to Corrie ten Boom is available to you.
In the second or two that Corrie withheld her hand from the prison guard, she went through a process. I’ve been through this process many times. Sometimes I’ve received instant help. Other times, it’s taken much longer for me to process the pain and receive God’s help to forgive. From Corrie’s life, and from my own, here are some steps you can take to receive God’s power to forgive.
- Admit the resentment, grudge, hostility, bitterness, hurt to God. (I John 1:9)
- Admit you are incapable (or unwilling) to forgive
- Acknowledge that only Jesus can forgive. Forgiveness is beyond our human power but not beyond God’s power.
- Depend on Jesus’ strength to forgive.
- Surrender to Jesus’ will and follow His example. Matthew 11:29 “Let me teach you for I am humble and gentle . . .”
Prayer: Lord, I cannot forgive ______________ (name) but you can. I’m willing to walk your path to forgiveness. I submit my will to you and today I choose to forgive.