With God’s help, forgiveness is possible

Published 1:15 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

“Getting shot hurts. Still my fear was growing because no matter how hard I tried to breathe it seemed I was getting less and less air,” President Ronald Reagan wrote after John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on March 20, 1981.

“I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn’t ask for God’s help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn’t that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God’s children and therefore equally beloved by him. I began to pray for his soul.” President Reagan’s words reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom’s experience.

Corrie’s family had a secret room in their house where they hid their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis. Before the end of the war, the German soldiers discovered her family’s activities and arrested them. They were sent to a concentration camp called Ravensbruck.

Corrie Ten Boom was the only member of her family who returned home after the Holocaust. After the war, Corrie began traveling in Europe and America telling about her experience of survival and sharing a message of God’s forgiveness. In her book, “The Hiding Place,” she relates an incident that happened while in Ravensbruck.

One day when she and her older sister, Betsie, were forced to stand naked, they saw a concentration camp matron beating another prisoner. “Oh, the poor woman,” Corrie cried. “Yes, may God forgive her,” Betsie replied. Corrie realized that her sister was once again praying for souls of the brutal Nazi guards.

Years later while Corrie Ten Boom was speaking to a group of people, she recognized a familiar face in the audience. The person approached her at the conclusion of her remarks, and Corrie felt anger growing inside her. The individual had been one of the guards at Ravensbruck. He’d asked God to forgive him for the cruel things he had done there, but he wanted to ask Corrie’s forgiveness as well.

“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?” Corrie said, “It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.” She remembered Jesus’ words, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

She then grasped the hand of the former guard, “And 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, bringing tears to my eyes.”

She once wrote, “You never so touch the ocean of God’s love as when you forgive and love your enemies.” Corrie learned, “When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”


– Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com.