What can Corrie ten Boom and Lysa Terkuerst teach us about forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a God given gift. The natural, human reaction is resentment, anger and bitterness. It doesn’t mean denying the offense or suffering. It is a decision and a process. It means leaving judgment in God’s hands. It doesn’t automatically mean reconciliation. We can borrow courage from Corrie and Lysa’s stories, even when our circumstances differ.
Corrie and Lysa lived in different centuries on different continents. But they served the same God who empowered them to forgive the ones who hurt them.
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Forgiveness is a supernatural, God-given gift.
The natural, human reaction is resentment, anger and bitterness.
It eats away at you and steals your joy. You want it to go away, but you also want to justify it. You want to feed it and pet it and nurse it. You want to pity yourself. You want to feel sorry for yourself for what you’ve suffered. If you forgive and let go of the bitterness it feels like you’re denying the hurt.
There’s the desire to inflict punishment on the one who has hurt you, to seek revenge. To make them hurt the way you’ve been hurt. To fantasize about their suffering.
But, in the end, that hurts you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean denying the offenses or the suffering.
Foundational to our ability to forgive is the belief that we have been forgiven. We have inflicted pain. We need forgiveness.
Ultimately, it is a gift from God that we extend to others.
Corrie ten Boom and her family were Christians in Holland who believed that the Jews were God’s chosen people. They defied the Nazi regime by hiding Jews in their home.
Corrie, her father and her sister were arrested and sent to German concentration camps. Corrie was the only one who survived the horrific treatment and was released on a technicality. After the war, when faced with one of her former captors, God empowered her to extend forgiveness to him.
“Forgiveness is a decision and a process.”
Lysa Terkuerst is a writer, a Bible teacher and a ministry leader. And human. Very human. With weakness, sins and failures just like every other human on the planet. We can relate.
Lysa Terkuerst suffered the unfaithfulness of her husband and took a deep dive into studying biblical forgiveness. Her marriage was redeemed and restored. She wrote a book entitled Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.
Not only has she tackled one of the most difficult topics head on, she’s been vulnerable and courageous enough to share her own story. A story of redemption and restoration.
Forgiveness is a decision and a process.–Lysa Terkuerst
I wonder if when Jesus talks about forgiving 70 times seven, he isn’t talking about different offenses. Maybe he’s talking about the process of continually forgiving deep offenses whether or not they occurred repeatedly.
Regardless, forgiveness is rarely a one and done proposition. It often is a journey.
Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame published an incredible interview with Lysa Terkuerst on her podcast about forgiveness. Listen to the whole interview here.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean pardon. It leaves judgment in God’s hands.
We relinquish the right to be judge and jury when we forgive. We acknowledge that God has the right to judge and punish. That breaks the chains of unforgiveness in our hearts.
I forgave them for the fact of what happened. But now I must forgive this person for the impact that this had on me.Lysa Terkuerst
Unforgiveness hurts us more than anyone else. It’s a gift to ourselves to forgive. We benefit more than anyone.
The best part is that when we forgive, we quit hurting ourselves.
Sometimes forgiveness includes reconciliation and sometimes it doesn’tLysa Terkuerst
Lysa’s story includes reconciliation and restoration, but she acknowledges that not all stories end that way.
We can borrow courage from Corrie and Lysa’s stories, even if our circumstances differ
The truth is, we can learn from the stories of courageous women. It’s an area of life that touches everyone.
We can follow Corrie and Lysa as they follow Jesus. We can see what it looks like for someone who is throughly human, throughly forgiven.
Story is the door.
The magic door that unlocks the imagination and emotion.
Through that door we embark on our own personal journey. We transcend time and leave our lives behind. We walk with them.
When we come down from the mountain, we pass through the door and return to our own lives.
But we bring the courage with us.
That’s the power of story.
It creates within us a hope that we can conquer the dragons in our world.
The truth is that other people’s stories can inspire us to live differently, to live better.
It doesn’t matter if we walk in their shoes, exactly.
The point is, everyone has the need to forgive someone in their lives.
We can travel the journey with Corrie ten Boom and Lysa Tekuerst.
It helps to know how real humans live, how we can be like them.
We can bring back the courage from their stories and apply it to our lives.