4 March 2013 by Mindy Oon CM-
Most of us would have heard the message of forgiveness from the pulpit of our churches. However, if you have been in a hurtful situation in your life, forgiving the ‘other party’ is easier said than done. As humans, we are more likely to be quick-tempered and to be ruled by our feelings and emotions. Rather than forgiving the person, our flesh often wants to cling to the hurt, ruminate on how others have wronged us, and meditate on the hurtful feelings. We pout, sulk, act moody, say critical and cutting things about them (and to them) because we think and feel that we have the right to do so. But it is the opposite that is true! In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus speaks about how we should forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart. At times this is very difficult to do! But perhaps, Corrie ten Boom’s story will remind us how forgiving is not a matter of feeling, but a choice and a decision to obey what Jesus has commanded.
Corrie ten Boom was put in a German concentration camp together with her sister. After going through hell on earth, Corrie had no choice but to rely on God to help her forgive her enemies. One night, as she was sharing her testimony at a church in Germany, a man approached her and told her that her testimony had made a great impact on him, and that he had done many things that he was truly sorry for. As the man spoke, Corrie was frozen in shock as she recognized him as one of the guards at the camp that she was in. He had been one of the most cruel, and now he was extending his had to her.
Overwhelmed with the old emotions of anger, resentment, and flooded with the memories of what she had experienced during the terrible years, Corrie found herself unable to take the man’s hand, nor could she reply to what he had been saying. However, she felt God challenging her to forgive him, just as she had been forgiven by Jesus.
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 prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. “You take the step of obedience,” came God’s gentle reply, “and I will do the rest.”
And so she obeyed, reached out and shook hands with the man. As she did, Christ’s supernatural love flooded her heart. She begin to see him as Christ did, and love and compassion replaced the bitterness that she earlier felt.
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.
This story of how Corrie came to terms with what she experienced at the camp reminds me that forgiveness is not about how we feel, but that it is a choice that we make. As we decide to obey and surrender the offence to the Lord, God will supply the willingness, love and compassion that we will need to live out the forgiveness that we have decided on.
We may be badly hurt, but remember, God’s love is much stronger. Don’t carry on carrying the hurt and bitterness. Make a decision to obey, and grow from your experience.
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