Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp. After the war, she toured Europe giving talks, urging rival nations to forgive one another. One night, after a talk in Munich, Germany, a man came up and extended his hand in a gesture of reconciliation. He was one of the most hated guards at the camp she had been in. She couldn’t take his hand. She prayed, “Jesus, help me! I can’t forgive him.” She says that suddenly a divine power helped her to take his hand in forgiveness. That night Corrie learned a great truth. The same Jesus who taught us to love our enemies empowers us to do it. What we need to do is to ask for that power. And certainly, like Corrie, we need that power. One of the most difficult things required of us as disciples of the Lord, is to forgive, especially to forgive those who have hurt us badly. Sometimes, those people can be strangers. But worse yet, is when they are family or friends. Nothing hurts worse than to be betrayed or harmed by someone we trust and love. We all have heard the old maxim, “to err is human: to forgive in divine”. This is just another way of admitting that forgiveness is very difficult and to do it we need God’s power. Especially when Jesus teaches us that we have to forgive “seventy times seven times” which of course, means every time someone hurts us without limit. That’s the way God forgives us and so we must imitate that in our dealings with others. But any forgiveness, especially limitless forgiveness, is hard and impossible for us on our own. So each of us needs to pray for the power to forgive. It may be given to us only over a period of time. But if we keep striving to do it with God’s grace, we will be able to do it and when we do, we will experience a great burden being lifted from us and a great joy.
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