I have just finished reading Corrie ten Boom's amazing autobiography, 'The Hiding Place'. She re-tells the horrors she had to face in WW2 and her punishment for hiding Jews in her home. The book speaks of the miracles that happened to her and her sister whilst they endured in a concentration camp and how even in the most vile suffering they found things to praise God for.
In the last few paragraphs Corrie writes about a time when she met, after many years, one of the prison guards at the camp. When she looked upon him, all the old memories came flooding back to her and with them hatred welled within her. He had come to thank her for her message, of how even a sinner like himself could be saved and forgiven because of Jesus. And Corrie realised right there and then that she couldn't forgive him. But God showed her that he had forgiveness enough for him, that Jesus had died for this man, would she ask for more than that? God showed her that only through His love could she love this former prison guard. That only through God's strength was she ever going to forgive him.
Throughout my life I have heard people say 'well God helped me to forgive', statements like that never truly applied to me because the only enemies I had when I was younger was when I would fall out with one of my siblings. But over the past years,weeks and months I have grown angry. Passions stirred within me of righteous anger, anger that I didn't really know what to do with. There were so many things I couldn't handle, I saw evil everywhere I turned, and the rock of my life, my own family, were even falling apart. I grew tired, I had had enough, I couldn't take it any more, then I realised through the suffering that I really needed God. Not just to know God, not just to think about him and praise him and tell others about him, but to actually help me to live this life in the way that he planned for me to. Because only when you have been through suffering do you realise that it was all 'you' before, it was you trying in your own strength to love, to forgive, to heal, to make better. Then when you come to the end you break down and weep. You fall on your knees and say 'I just can't forgive him any more, he's broken my heart too many times. I don't think it's fair on me any more, it's just not 'human' to love him after this!' That's when God says 'I know and I've watched you carry all of that, I didn't take it from you because I wanted you to come to this place, to see me now. To realise that I'm here with more than enough love to give, that's what I do- I am love, I have an eternal love, an ever-lasting love that will overcome all evil and cleanse every sinner white as snow. I can love him for you, I can forgive him for you. Through me and me only will you realise you can.'
This is remarkable, don't you think so? Our heavenly father takes our burdens for us and loves us so much, he will help us overcome all trials, more than help us, he will forgive our enemies for us- with us!
Corrie ten Boom said that as soon as she offered her bitterness and her hatred to God, he poured through her a warmth and in an instant she could look upon that prison gaurd with love! She didn't try in her weak human efforts, she let God try, and there was love unlike any other. Corrie says that never are the floodgates so open to the ocean of God's love, than when one's loving one's enemies.
I encourage you, who will have problems and trials all of your own in this life, to just stop and cry out to our heavenly father who longs for us to surrender to him. So that you too can experience this true freedom found only through divine love.