Can you forgive people who’d be happy if you were dead?
When I was at the concentration camp, one of the most terrible things I had to go through was when they stripped us of all our clothing and had to stand naked, the first time was the worst. I told my sister, “Besty, I cannot bear this.” Suddenly, it was as if I saw Jesus, hanging naked at the cross.
The Bible tells us, “they (Roman soldiers) took His garments…” Jesus hanged there naked, and I knew he hanged there for me, for my sins. In my suffering, I understood a fraction of the suffering of Jesus Christ and it made me so thankful that I could bear my suffering.
Look at the cross
Some are afraid to look at the cross. The cross is terrible and how Jesus suffered in it is hard to describe. But you must not be afraid to look at it. At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my sins rolled away. It was there, by faith, I received my sight.
Can you forgive a cruel man?
It was some time ago that I was in Berlin and a man told me, “Ah Miss Ten Boon, I am glad to see you, don’t you know me?” Then I suddenly realized that the man before me was one of the guards at the concentration camp.
Then he said, “I am now a Christian, I found the Lord Jesus. I read my Bible and I know that there is forgiveness for all their sins of the whole world, also for my sins. I have forgiveness for the cruelties I have done.” The man said further, “I have asked God’s Grace for an opportunity that I could ask one of my victim’s forgiveness, and Fraulein Ten Boom, will you forgive me”?
Similarly, Lou Zamperini, he was ridiculed, mocked, but was physically tortured, yet he chose to forgive his Japanese tormentors.
Hatred and forgiveness
But at that moment, I could not, I remembered the suffering of my dying sister Betsy through him. When I realized that I could not forgive him, I suddenly realized that I myself had no forgiveness. Jesus said, “when you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you.” (Matthew 6:15)
I could only hate him but then, I was reminded of one of the most beautiful texts in the Bible, Romans 5:5 “The love of God has shed abroad into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” Then I said, “Thank you, Jesus, that you have brought into my heart, God’s love through the Holy Spirit who is given to me. Thank you Father that your love is stronger than my hatred and unforgiveness”
That same moment, I was freed from my hatred and I could say, “Brother, give me your hand, and I shook hands with him. It was as if I felt God’s love stream through my arms. Forgiving your enemy is like touching the ocean of God’s love.
Can you forgive? No! I can’t either but, He can. What is impossible with men is impossible with God (Luke 18:27). Look at the cross and see the forgiveness that Christs offers you. Forgive as He has forgiven you.