Summary: Forgiveness is possible regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
Text: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Story: “Abraham Lincoln and the Spy”
When I was preaching in the Southern States of America, the minister called my attention to one of the elders. He said: “When the Civil war broke out, that man was in one of the far Southern States, and he enlisted in the Southern Army. He was selected by the General and sent to spy the Northern Army.
“As you know, armies have no mercy on spies if they are caught. This man was caught, tried by court-marshal, and ordered to be shot. While he was in the guardroom waiting the day of execution, he would call Abraham Lincoln by every vile name that he could think of.
“One day while he was in prison, a Northern officer came into his cell. The prisoner, full of rage, thought his time was come to be shot. The officer, when he opened the door, handed him a free pardon, signed by Abraham Lincoln. He told him he was at liberty; he could go to his wife and children.
“The man who had before been so full of bitterness and malice and rage suddenly quieted down, and said: ‘What! Has Abraham Lincoln pardoned me? I have never said a good word about him.’
“The officer replied: ‘If you got what you deserved, you would be shot. But some one interceded for you at Washington, and obtained your pardon. You are now at liberty.’”
------------Christian Endeavor World
Here was a soldier caught in the act of spying on the Northern army and ended up getting caught. The penalty for such an act was court marshal than execution. The soldier knew in his heart the end was quickly approaching. He would soon stand before a firing squad and be shot to death. He would never see his wife and children again.
Someone was to blame for what was happening to him. He thought that someone was President Abraham Lincoln. He had nothing to lose by calling the President every foul name he could think of. The President would never know, but at least the prisoner would release some of the anger in his mind.
We have had people do things to us that were not favorable. Perhaps, we were blamed for something we had not done. Maybe something came up missing and one of our friends accused us of stealing, but in reality, we were innocent. We paid the price in money or time. What did we think of our accuser and what names did we call him? When we were proved innocent, could we forgive our accuser?
Maybe you have heard the name, Corre Ten Boom. Corre was the youngest in the Ten Boom family. She had 2 sisters; Betsie and Nollie and 1 brother whose name was Willhem. Corre’s father had a clock repair shop on the first floor of their 3 story apartment.
The Ten Boom family was noted for taking in children. Corre organized the Haarlem Girl’s Club in 1923. She prayed for and with the girls and told them how much Jesus loved them. She told them how important they were and what Jesus did for them.
The German government brought much harassment upon the Jewish people. There were restricted as to where they could dine as well as to which sidewalk they could walk on. Also, they were not allowed to speak or talk to non-Jews. Every Jew was given a gold or yellow star to wear so that they could be easily identified.
Corre’s father, Casper was Dutch, but he insisted upon wearing a yellow star upon his clothing. As the Germans made things more and more unbearable for the Jews, the Ten Boom family began hiding the Jews until they could escape. A man by the name of Smit, a friend of the family, went to the Ten Boom house and determined one of the rooms was an excellent place to build a hiding place.
The room was built and no one could tell where it was. Every precaution was taken to make it appear there were no additional people living there. One evening the German officers came in and tore the house apart looking for Jews. The German officers found some extra ration stamps which was enough to have them arrested and placed in jail.
Corre never again heard from her father and eventually her and her sister ended up in the German concentration camp named Revensbruck. Here is where Betsie died.
All the time in prison, Corre was able to hide a little Dutch Bible and every change she got, Corre would tell other prisoners about Jesus. There was one prison guard who was very mean and nasty to Corre and the other prisoners. Corre could see his face in her dreams as she tried to sleep.