Corrie Ten Boom on Forgiveness

This Sunday we'll begin a short series on peace-making (i.e., conflict resolution) — which, like money, is one of Jesus's (and the New Testament's) most frequent themes! 

Here is a quote from Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place (which is excellent, if you haven't read it!) on how God's forgiveness moves and enables us to forgive others. She, her sister, and her father were Dutch Christians sent to a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews in their house. Here Ten Boom describes an encounter with one of her former guards (who did not remember her), after a talk she had given in 1946 in Germany, on God's forgiveness, only a couple years after she had been released from the concentration camp because of a "clerical error":

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a 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 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 struggles 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.

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. 

—The Hiding Place, pp. 247–248

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