When Jesus commands us to forgive those who have sinned against us, we have a tendency to question just how far he would have us go with extending such forgiveness. Surely the Savior didn’t have Corrie ten Boom forgiving those who cruelly persecuted her and her family–those who were responsible for the deaths of some of her closest family members–in mind, did he?
Yet, he so clearly teaches, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).
Until World War II, Corrie ten Boom had lived peacefully in her home in the Netherlands with her father and sister, Betsie. When the war broke out, Corrie and her family began hiding Jews in her father’s home. Betrayed by a fellow countryman, the family was sent to prison where her father died. After being separated for a time, Corrie and Betsie ended up in the same place in Germany, the notorious prison camp–Ravensbruck.
Sadly, Betsie also died while in the camp, her body unable to tolerate any more of the poor conditions and cruel treatment. After a clerical error, Corrie left Ravensbruck and returned to Holland.
No one would have blamed Corrie if she had never returned to Germany. It was a miracle that she left Ravensbruck alive. But it was Betsie who suggested that they someday would, in fact, return. One night, in Ravensbruck, while lying face to face on a small cot, Betsie shared what she knew God had told her: that they would be back to share the love of Jesus. Even under Corrie’s protest, Betsy insisted God would take away the bitterness and fill their hearts with God’s love.
As Corrie rested her hand on Betsie’s beating heart, she realized how close her sister’s heart was to God’s. Corrie wrote, “Only God could see in such circumstances the possibility for ministry in the future-ministry to those who even now were preparing to kill us.”
After Betsie died, Corrie returned to Germany in order to bring the message of…