This week finds me in my third ever reading through of Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place. As is true with rereading any book, some things struck me this time that I had not paid particular attention to before. I’ll just highlight two special passages from the book.
Toward the beginning of the book, Corrie is struggling with the concept of death when a little baby dies. Her father finds a special way to help her.
“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam—when do I give you your ticket?’
I sniffed a few times, considering this. ‘Why, just before we get on the train.’
‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.’ ”
I loved this analogy that Corrie’s father used. The verse that comes to mind is “my grace is sufficient for you.” I can’t emotionally fortify myself against the unknowns of the future, but I can depend on God to give me the strength to face those unknowns just when I need it.
After Corrie’s release from prison, she ministers both to the victims of persecution, and to their persecutors. She finds herself in a rough place when she encounters one of her own tormentors in church. He comes to greet her after a church service:
“’How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.’ He said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
If you, like me, have ever struggled to forgive someone, you will understand Corrie’s struggle to give someone who had literally tormented her and those she loved. How wonderful that God has truly done it all for us. I find I am able to forgive and love in difficult situations when I pray that God will provide the love and forgiveness for me to give. I’m still rolling this quote around in my head, and I hope you will too.
“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”