When we can’t forgive, God Helps us

Corrie ten Boom

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.


About rosemccormickbrandon

An award winning personal experience writer, Rose McCormick Brandon is a frequent contributor to faith magazines, devotionals and compilations, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose is the author of Promises of Home: Stories of Canada's British Home Children (2014). One Good Word Makes all the Difference (2013), He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me (2012) and Vanished: What Happened to My Son. She's a frequent contributor to The Testimony, Today's Pentecostal Evangel and other faith magazines in Canada, U.S. and Australia. Rose also writes about Canadian history, specifically the era of Child Immigration from Britain. Read her stories of child immigrants at: http://littleimmigrants.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to When we can’t forgive, God Helps us

  1. Hi Rose,
    This is great blog post that so many of us need to hear in order to move on in the freedom that He wants us to bask in. For years I tried to forgive someone but I always felt like since I could remember what had happened it meant I must not be walking in forgiveness. This thought hung me up for quite a while until I realized that only God doesn’t remember. It is almost impossible for us to totally erase a memory – especially the ones that we would like to:) What’s really important is how we remember? We can remember the offense and still love the offender. With God’s power flowing through our lives we can walk in forgiveness to remember without bitterness, without anger, without the stirring up of bad memories. True forgiveness is remembering while allowing His peace and love to cover the past so that we can soar into a clear future! Thanks for reminding me today.

    • Marta, many people urge others to just forget about it or get over it. These comments seldom help anyone who struggles to forgive. It’s true we can’t erase an event from our memories but we can ask God to heal the affects of the event. I’ve learned this from personal experience as you have. I know you join me in praying that others will experience the freedom that comes with forgiveness. Blessings

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