To live and forgive does not sometimes seem “do-able.” Forgiveness is not a natural reaction for us in our human-ness. And if we ‘grade’ the offense against us or our loved ones, maybe that over-the-top wrongdoing is too strong – too hurtful. The resentment seems acceptable.
And… it is. With such harsh transgressions in this world, how can we learn to overlook, to let go of anguish, and to forgive the offender?
This article is not a way to sweep away heartache, point a finger if you haven’t found forgiveness toward a person or incident, nor is it to offer a simple solution to these kinds of difficult mortal circumstances.
It is, however, my loving attempt to help you and me move past the kind of hurts that may stall us in our full acceptance of the greatness of the Savior’s gifts. The more we understand, the better we are able to move forward.
What if we could grasp the concept that, when forgiveness is needed, we don’t have to be the ones to give it? At least, now the way we think we should. I found a beautiful story, about Corrie Ten Boom, that opened up some new avenues of thought regarding this “forgiveness” thing. It will help me as I move forward in my mortal journey. Maybe it will help you, too. There is some sweet peace in settling any of the issues that keep us estranged from the more full blessings of the Holy Spirit, right!
In her book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boon writes:
“It was at a church in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, ‘He has washed my sins away’!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal on the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile; I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again, I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give him Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness, any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
What a powerful story! To obtain peace of mind, and calm in our hearts, we must often face the perpetrator or the issue head-on. Note that this “aha” moment came years after Corrie Ten Boon had been the victim of such vicious offense.
It may take a long time to feel that forgiving spirit and find the peace we desire. Forgiveness is, for most, a hard principle to master. It is do-able, however. Most especially when we come to realize that it is the Lord’s love that allows it to happen, anyway. It’s His love that fills the void, changes darkness to light, and moves us past our own weaknesses to the greater love awaiting us.
If we can take this example to heart, and keep in remembrance our Lord, the giver of loving forgiveness, maybe we will more simply and completely find the perfect peace he has taught us! He is the Prince of Peace. There is peace in being able to live and forgive.