Sunday, April 15, 2012
Demeter suffered for many years in Communist prisons. He had remained strong in spirit during his confinement, but his body was beginning to wear down. There was a certain prison warden who amused himself by beating on Demeter’s spine with a hammer, which permanently paralyzed him. But Demeter’s Christlike attitude never wavered, and he was eventually released from prison.
Twenty years later, he heard a knock at the front door of his home. He was shocked to see the same prison warden who had so cruelly beat on his spine and paralyzed him years before standing before him. Still, Demeter did not waver in his expression of faith.
Even before Demeter could offer a greeting, the former warden said, “I realize I can never be forgiven for what I have done to you. It was too heinous. But please just listen to my words of apology and then I will leave.”
Demeter paused only for a moment as he gazed with compassion and wonder at the man. He replied softly, “For twenty years I have prayed for you daily. I have waited for you. Twenty years ago, I forgave you already.” If we are willing to show love and forgiveness to everyone – even those who have hurt us – then the love of Christ can conquer all.
Most people will never suffer deliberate physical torment. However, the wounds that others inflict upon us emotionally can be just as devastating. Memories of unkind words, a betrayal by a friend, a bitter divorce, can stay with us for a lifetime. We are tempted to hold a grudge, or even perhaps to exact revenge against the offender. Forgiveness does not come naturally to us, but it is inseparable from God’s nature. If we have tasted God’s grace, then we can allow others to share in God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness does not depend on the offender’s asking for it first. It is an act of obedience, as well as an act of faith. Ask God to open your heart to the miracle of true forgiveness.
Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.