Years ago, when I was first introduced to Guideposts, I read an article by Corrie Ten Boom who chose to go to war-scarred Germany to carry her message that forgiveness is possible. The article began:

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.

It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.

“When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.” The whole article is here.

Little did I know that Corrie’s words were going to mean so much to me later in life. She had to forgive one of her captors who asked for her forgiveness that night she spoke.

Corrie had a home in Holland for those who survived the Nazi brutality. She lived the Words that Jesus spoke in Mark 11:26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses. She saw those who were able to forgive their tormentors were healed and able to live normal lives with love and laughter. But those who did not forgive were consumed with bitterness and remained invalids crippled by their unforgiveness.

Because of the biblical truths that Corrie Ten Boom pointed out in 1972, and only because I leaned on God to do it for me, I was finally able to forgive my husband’s infidelity, his gambling away every dime he made plus what I earned. I forgave losing home after home—one time I got a call with an address to come home to because he had moved us out of the home I left that morning. I forgave the verbal abuse towards me and the verbal and sometimes physical abuse towards my girls when he was so sotted with alcohol he could barely stand up—all the wicked things, and gave thanks and praise to God for His presence in our family during those awful times. I thanked God for protecting my faith. I continue to thank God for turning my daughters’ father around to live for Him rather than against Him, to live in faith and love and peace while he was still able-bodied enough to enjoy his family and grandchildren.

It took three years of struggle to decide to divorce him. It took four years to get over the anger and the nighttime teeth grinding. It took the love of one daughter who never gave up on him to finally bring us back together in a peaceful atmosphere and family fun. It took 11 years to get to the point where I could be friends with him again.

True forgiveness is a painful, necessary, and long process.

I thank God that He helped me forgive the man that share daughters and grandchildren with me. I thank God that He did all this before my ex-husband’s massive stroke last Thanksgiving that now has him incapacitated twenty years after our divorce.

Now I go and see him. I wash his face when he is too hot because the nurses have left thick blankets on him. I praise God because when I think of my ex-husband, my heart overflows with peace and love rather than clenched with anger and acrimony. Those two are bitter food to live on. Peace and love are far sweeter dishes to savor.

I tell you this today so that you might understand I know what it is like to fight through hurt and betrayal to find that peace and contentment that only unconditional forgiveness provides. I encourage you to pluck chords of harmony rather than strife. Seek God’s power to forgive. Grow like a strong green tree rather than being a crooked, dried-up weed. Don’t lean on your own strength. Lean on the strong arm of God who is love, power, and the epitome of forgiveness.