Corrie Ten Boom, forgiving the unforgivable

Adapted from Corrie Ten Boom's sermon on forgiveness

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corrie ten boom
The holocaust, Jews were systematically being eliminated during WW II

Can you forgive people who’d be happy if you were dead?

My name is Corrie ten Boom and my family helped the Jews in World War II. However, we were caught and sent to 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.

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 pain of Jesus Christ, and it made me so thankful that I could bear my suffering.

→ What happens to Christians when they die?

how to forgive
Corrie Ten Boom along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her closet

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 is where I first saw the light, and the burden of my sins rolled away. It was there, by faith, I received my sight.

→ Unbroken hero, Lou Zamperini.

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.

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 own 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“?

how to forgive
Ten Boom told the story of her family members and their World War II work in her best-selling book, The Hiding Place (1971), which was made into a 1975 World Wide Pictures film, The Hiding Place.

Why are we depressed?

Remembering the pain in the eyes of my enemy

That moment, I could not forgive that man because I remembered the suffering of my dying sister Betsy through him. I suddenly realized that I do not want to forgive my enemy, yet Jesus forgave me.

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, “The love of God has shed abroad into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Forgiving your enemy is like touching the ocean of God’s love.

Then I said, “Thank you Jesus, that you have brought into my heart God’s love through the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Father, that your love is stronger than my hatred and unforgiveness.”

That same moment, I was freed from my hatred. 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.

Jesus’ light is strongest than the deepest darkness.

Look at the cross!

Is it easy to forgive? No! I can’t either but, Jesus can. What is impossible with men is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Look at the cross and see the forgiveness that Christs offers you. Forgive as He has forgiven you.

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