Monday, April 13, 2009

Hope in Christ

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
1 Corinthians 15:19

I am always in wonder when a Sunday morning sermon touches on so many aspects of the previous week. It's even more amazing when I find the pastor preaching the exact passage I looked up the night before (especially when he's going through the book of Matthew and it was 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 I had been reading). I love when God confirms what He has been teaching or showing me. Each time this happens I'm sure I feel Him smile... Is that possible?

Following is a story of forgiveness that touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Many of you have heard the story before but perhaps there is another someone out there who will be blessed for the very first time...

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. ...

And that's when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister's frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. ...

"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard in there." No, he did not remember me. "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, ..." his hand came out, ... "will you forgive me?"

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." ...

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling."

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

"I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"

For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.

Corrie died on April 15, 1983 in Orange, California, on her ninety-first birthday.

References:Ten Boom, C., Sherril, J., Sherril, S., (1971): The Hiding Place. New York: Bantam.Ten Boom, C., Buckingham, J. (1974). Tramp for the Lord. New York: Jove Corrie Ten Boom by Cheryl Cheek Guidepost article ©1972 "I'm Still Learning to Forgive


  1. This made me cry. Thanks for posting it. What an awesome God we have!

  2. "Free" thats what we are free to live; free to love; free to leave the past; free to press on towards the mark; free, free, free, I love it! Corrie was at that moment completely free, forgiven and able to forgive. How amazing the story, how amazing Gods love to us; and through us! Only the child of God can understand this, as He has done this for us and allows us to be that channel through which His forgiveness can be expressed in an absolute, and tangeble way.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this.
    I knew the story, but needed to hear it again!

    Best Regards,

  4. I had heard this story several times, but it still brings tears to my eyes. In fact a couple of weeks ago, the Movie "The Hiding Place" was on TV and we watched Corrie and Bestie's story.



  5. It has been quite a while since I heard that story. Thank you for re-introducing me.

    And I am in 100% agreement with how amazing God is. That He can lead pastor's to saying just what needs to be said for the congregation God is organizing for the upcoming Sunday. Or how the Holy Spirit can encourage me to turn on a radio just when I need to. Or how He can work in the heart of a friend a few days earlier and direct her to complete a card and how He carries it through the mail to you just when you need it. It boggles the mind. But I love it. It shows how big our God is! \o/

  6. God is good. All the time.