[Jesus said] “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that . . . Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Her name was Cornelia. Everyone called her “Corrie.” And Corrie was in a moment of shock.
It was several years after World War II. Corrie and her Christian family had hidden Jews from Nazi authorities during the war. The authorities had discovered what her family was doing and sent Corrie, her father, and her sister to a concentration camp. Corrie was the only one to survive.
Back to Corrie’s moment of shock: She was sharing her wartime experiences with others, including the message of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. As she did, a man walked up to her. She recognized him right away, although he apparently did not recognize her. He had been a guard at Ravensbruck—the very concentration camp where Corrie had suffered and her family had died. The man had taken part in terrible, terrible things. And now, there he stood. There he stood, seeking God’s forgiveness in Christ.
He offered to shake hands. But in that moment, Corrie couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t. For all her talk in that room about forgiving others as God has forgiven us in Jesus, she didn’t have the strength. There was just too much horror. Too many memories. Too many scars.
Then, by God’s grace, Corrie received a lesson about the power of God’s forgiveness. She turned to her Lord with a repentant heart, seeking forgiveness for her failure to forgive this man. Before she knew what was happening, her arm was up. She was shaking the man’s hand. She realized, as she had never realized before, that the power to forgive others does not come from your own strength. Rather, it is God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ that carries all of us.
There are times, Lord Jesus, when I struggle to forgive others. The hurt is so great. The memories are so strong. Wash me clean. Cleanse me in your blood. And let your forgiveness flow through me to others. Amen.