I find this hard to believe; PBS, the bastion of Politically Correct Doctrine, included an objective article on Corrie ten Boom in their series, The Question of God. They even included the best photo of Corrie that I’ve seen, with a loving, open, happy smile displayed for all the world to enjoy. (Watch The Question of God video at the end of this article.)
But this post isn’t about PBS! It’s about Corrie’s experience forgiving the concentration camp guard who so brutalized her and her sister Betsie. If you’re already a Christ-follower, you’ve no doubt heard this story, but whether-or-not you have, it’s one of the most compelling, positive, uplifting narratives of spiritual fruit in action.
I won’t retell the story here, but I want to highlight the Scripture that forced her to capitulate to God’s will:
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
While Betsie was frail, Corrie was hardy. But spiritually, Betsie was the strong one; even while her physical strength faded, she forgave every offense the Nazis could throw at her. Oddly, by worldly standards, her strength under abuse gave Corrie the strength to resist the bitterness that tried to consume her.
I have to ask myself, what in these two women’s rearing gave them the godly character to endure such cruel treatment without giving way to the hatred surrounding them?
When I look to their pre-story, I see a father who lived his Christian faith—as opposed to Christian religion—under the greatest adversity, loving even the very Jews who had thought themselves superior to these Gentiles. His actions matched, and even exceeded, his profession. Any young person who witnesses such Christlike integrity in her parents will aspire to follow their example. Of course the converse is also true; hypocrisy in parents will usually produce cynicism and hypocrisy in their children.
Curious, isn’t it, how kids’ “BS” detectors can be so well-tuned while their parents’ have no clue about their inconsistent lives. Somehow, parents view angry words and harsh discipline while preparing for and heading to church, as appropriate behavior. Somehow, adults see nothing amiss when they gossip about the church brethren or enjoy roast pastor for Sonday dinner, after weeping for joy with raised hands, and even testifying of victory during worship just an hour before. Formally teaching two-faced behavior to the kids wouldn’t be as effective as that sordid example.
And me? Guilty-as-charged! I feel I must apologize to my own children, now grown, for my questionable example while they were growing up. By God’s grace, however, they have survived and spiritually prospered as adults, now providing godly example to their children, and to me.
The highest example of all is Jesus Christ, and the few Christ-followers who most closely emulate his life, like Betsie and Corrie ten Boom, who imitated Jesus in his most difficult task, when he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)