"Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).
The August 25, 1984 issue of Insight magazine had an article by Corrie ten Boom, the author of The Hiding Place, the account of her years of horror in a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie was in Munich, Germany, and had just given a talk on forgiveness in one of the churches there. It was a message these defeated people needed desperately.
Corrie told them, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, `No fishing allowed.'" After the talk the people silently collected their wraps and started leaving the room.
It was then that she saw a man working his way toward her. One moment she saw his overcoat and the next she saw the blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. Memories crashed on her heart, as she recalled her sister and her walking naked past this very man. And here he was, one of the cruelest guards at Ravensbruck, coming toward her.
He praised her message and admitted that he had been a guard at Ravensbruck. He then asked her forgiveness, never recognizing her as one of the inmates there. We weep as we read of her struggle to maintain calm in front of this man. "But forgiveness is not an emotion. I knew that, too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart," she reasoned with herself. "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." She then relates, "I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then...It was the power of God."
I cannot fathom the courage and faith Corrie mustered to place her hand in the hand of this monster! But as she did, she brought healing to the man as well as healing to her own soul. We might want to remember this when we refuse to forgive someone who we feel (and let’s face it, our feelings are the culprit!) has hurt us beyond God’s forgiveness, much less our own. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” If Jesus could forgive those who nailed Him to the cross, then who are we to refuse to forgive anyone?