Monday, July 24, 2023

Could you forgive this?

All photos used by permission of Unsplash

I have just been preparing a lesson on forgiveness for Year 5 pupils. It is easy to understand what it is, but probably one of the hardest things to actually do!

I was quite young when I first heard about Corrie Ten Boom, she was a lady from the Netherlands who lived with her family in Haarlem not far out of Amsterdam. I was fascinated by history and this story gripped me. For my fortieth birthday we went to the Netherlands and while there visited the jeweller’s shop where the events took place. The shop is a going concern and the house above is a museum telling a great story.

The Ten Boom family were Christians and when Hitler and his forces took control of the Netherlands, they were appalled by the persecution of the Jews. They had a rambling old house and bravely had a hiding place built where they could hide Jews when the Nazis came looking for them. They saved many Jews from being captured. Eventually in 1944 they were betrayed and caught and taken away. Corrie’s father Casper died ten days later in Scheveningen prison and Corrie, with her sister Betsie, was taken to the notorious Ravensbruck Concentration Camp where they were treated worse than cattle and went through beatings and indescribable hardship.

Betsie and Corrie lived out their Christian faith in front of the other woman there and many became Christians too, because of them.

Betsie died in the Concentration camp, but Corrie was released due to a clerical error just days before many of the women in the camp were killed. Corrie spent over 30 years telling her story and of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, she died on her 91st birthday in 1983. This remarkable woman died knowing that she was about to see the face of the One who went through so much so that she could be forgiven, her Lord, Jesus Christ.

I wonder how you would feel if it was you that went through the ordeal of the concentration camp, knowing that your father had died because of the Nazis and your sister also. Corrie struggled with her feelings too.

While touring, giving talks about her experience, she found herself in Berlin. A man approached her, expressing just how glad he was to see her. As she looked, she just about recognised him, he had been a guard at Ravensbruck, he was known as one of the most cruel. The man expressed that he was now a Christian as he had found Jesus Christ as Saviour, He went on to express that as he read his Bible he knew that there is forgiveness for all the sins of the world and included in that were his sins. He expressed that he had been forgiven by God for all the cruel acts he had committed. The man continued speaking to a dumbstruck Corrie. He explained that he had asked for God’s grace to have an opportunity to meet one of his victims to ask for forgiveness from them. Looking right at Corrie he asked for her forgiveness.

At that moment Corrie could not forgive, she thought of all the cruelty and humiliation she had endured. She paused for a moment, instant after instant passed through her head, she struggled to offer the forgiveness that she was being asked for. Then she began to think of all the unjust suffering that the perfect Son of God had endured for her, the humiliation of the cross and how He did that for her and the sin of the whole world. She struggled so hard to stop the feelings of hatred. She thought of the words of Romans 5 v 5, ‘The love of God is shed abroad into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.’ She thanked Jesus for bringing God’s love to us, A love we do not deserve, a forgiveness we do not deserve, she thanked God that His love was stronger than the hatred she felt. She said, ‘Brother give me your hand!’ She shook hands with him forgiving him!

The ocean of God’s love flows when you forgive your enemies. Why? Because we made God an enemy through our sin, yet Romans 5 v 8 tells us something amazing, ‘God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’

Do you know God’s forgiveness have you received His love through Jesus Christ?

Used by permission of Your542Day. Written by Stuart Scammell for Messages with Meaning (02/12/20)

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