When my kids are quarreling and I tell them they need to make up and forgive each other, they say "how can I forgive someone I am still mad at?" How indeed? It is a hard thing to do and I wasn't sure exactly what to tell them. Then I read this quote and it was an epiphany for me.
"Forgiveness is not an emotion...Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart." Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. She wrote two books, one is called The Hiding Place where she tells the story of how her family helped hide Jews in their home during World War II. Consequently they were caught and sent to concentration camps where her father and sister both died. Her other book, Tramp for the Lord, details her life after her release. She began to go all over the world sharing her experiences and preaching the Word of God. She went without purse or scrip, following the promptings of where to go next and trusting that she would find people who would feed and house her and assist her in her work.
One experience she writes about is when she came face to face with a former guard who asked for her forgiveness. It happened just after she gave a sermon on how we are to forgive our enemies. The guard had heard the sermon and came up to her afterward and told how after the war he had become a Christain and how he knew that God had forgiven him for the cruel things he did as a Nazi guard, and he was asking for her forgivness as well. Then he stuck out his hand.
She remembered him as being one of the most cruel of all the guards, and her thoughts raced back to seeing her sister suffer and die as a result of the cruel treatment. She said the act of raising her hand to meet his was the most difficult thing she had ever had to do, but she knew that she had to do it. She prayed silently, "help me...I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling." She lifted her hand and grasped the guard's hand. Then a most amazing thing happened. She said a current started in her shoulder, raced down her arm and sprang into their grasped hands; then she felt a healing warmth flood her entire being.What an amazing story. I'm so grateful that I have never had to endure such hardship. But I can understand to a small extent how hard it is to forgive someone; how hard it is to make my heart feel that forgiveness. What I glean from her experience is that it is not up to me to supply the feeling of forgivness. I am to "lift my hand" and the Lord will take care of the rest.