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Forgiving Someone Who Has Hurt You

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I’ve heard remarkable stories of forgiveness during my life, but none quite moved me like Corrie ten Boom’s, who survived imprisonment in Ravensbrück, a notorious Nazi prison camp. In 1947 (after World War II had ended), she spoke about God’s forgiveness in the basement of a church in Munich, Germany. When her talk was over and everyone headed out, one man made his way in closer to speak with her. She recognized him as a former guard at the concentration camp where she and her sister, Betsie, were held.

In her own words from November 1972:

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. It was the first time since my release that I had been face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbrück 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. Fräulein,”—again the 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?

Corrie goes on to explain the difficulty of the next moments and her silent prayer to Jesus to supply her absent feeling of forgiveness as she lifted her hesitant hand to meet the man’s outstretched hand. As soon as they connected, she describes the experience as “a current starting in her shoulder, racing down her arm, and springing into their joined hands.” Immediately, a “healing warmth” flooded her whole body and brought tears to her eyes. She spoke Christ’s words of forgiveness to the former guard and says she had “never known God’s love so intensely as [she] did then.”

Through Corrie’s story, we see an extraordinary illustration of faith in Christ and the willing act of forgiving those who have done us harm. I believe the healing warmth she experienced is the “living water” of Jesus Christ.

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:38 NLT)

Bitterness barricades our hearts from the Spirit’s flow. Forgiveness breaks down those walls and rivers of Jesus’ living water come rushing through us.

Father God, as we continue this precious life You’ve given us through Jesus Christ, please supply the will to forgive as we lay any bitterness on Your altar and state our desire to forgive others as You have forgiven us. Your forgiveness knows no bounds, and You cast our sins away as far as the east is from the west. May we do the same toward others and be an active part of Your river of overflowing love.


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Facts and quotes from Corrie ten Boom taken from her former guest appearance with Pat Robertson on The 700 Club and her guest post in Guideposts online magazine.

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About The Author

Beth Patch on CBN's Brand Team

Beth Patch is a writer and senior internet producer/editor for She's been writing and producing web content for CBN since 2008. Her empty nest now homes a German shepherd named Princess Leia and a hound dog named Rufus.

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