But Father, I DON'T Want To Forgive!
WARNING!!! This will be a pretty long post, but I hope you will read it through to the end.
So Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, hid Jews during the Nazi invasion. When they were caught, they were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. They were starved, worked almost to death and, to add insult and humiliation to injury, they were made to walk naked past the male guards. I hate to even imagine what else these women and other prisoners went through.
In the study 'You Are Forgiven' I'm doing through lovegodgreatly.com, this is what they have written in Chapter 5, which is titled "THE CALL OF FORGIVENESS";
"Many years later while speaking on forgiveness, Corrie saw one of the guards from the time of her imprisonment. It's a lot to take in. Her sister [Betsie] had died in prison and she herself had suffered cruelly at the hands of the Nazis."
Corrie was sure that the guard would not remember her because it had been a long time ago and there were thousands of other prisoners there with her. When he stood in front of her, hand outstretched, he said, " A fine message fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!"
Corrie says, " And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand."
***Could you imagine being subjected to such horrible torture as I'm sure that both Corrie and Betsie were subjected to and then having one of the people responsible want to , again, put his hand on you, even if it was in a gesture of peace? Oh, I can tell you right now that I would not be strong enough to do so!***
The guard then went on to explain that he had been a guard there and then he said, "But since that time, I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein," ---again the hand came out----"will you forgive me?"
Corrie says," And I stood there--I whose sins had every day to be forgiven-- and could not. Betsie had died in that place- could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not be 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. For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.' I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience.
Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that."
Corrie goes on to say that she knew that forgiveness was not an emotion but an act of the will, and "the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. She told God that she COULD lift her hand but He would have to supply the rest...the feeling.
"And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. 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. "I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"
Jesus came to this world, stepped down from the glories of heaven to bring us the forgiveness we so desperately needed. If we can accept His forgiveness for every single horrible thing we have ever done, then we MUST give it to those who've harmed us, broken our hearts, our spirits and, yes, even our families. As I'm writing this, I am struggling in this area of forgiveness and I have begged, shouted and prayed until my mind has run out of words for God to give me HIS strength to forgive. No, I don't want to forgive for the people who have harmed me sake's, but so that I can be free to pursue my right relationship with my Lord and Savior. You see, we don't forgive to let the other person off the hook or to let them get away with whatever they've done, but because unforgiveness in our hearts hurts no one but us. God wants better for us. Vengeance belongs to God and He sees ALL.
If You are holding on to past hurts, you are only damaging yourself and your closeness to God. I have had people that I love dearly praying for me and, slowly but surely, I am letting go of my own hurts.
If this post helps you at all, please share so that others might read and see how forgiveness is good, a good gift from our Loving Father.
The quotes from Corrie ten Boom were taken fro chapter 5 of You Are Forgiven by the Love God Greatly team. The book is available here for purchase and can be found for Kindle Unlimited subscribers here.
You can also keep up with all of LOVE GOD GREATLY'S studies by signing up at http://www.lovegodgreatly.com .