“The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom: A Lesson in Forgiveness and Matthew 18:21-35
Greetings, dear members of Redeemer of Interlochen!
As we have set up (or really reset) our Library at Redeemer I will be writing you periodically to share books that for me have been “Chisel Books,” that is to say books that have shaped me over the course of my life. I hope to display them in the Narthex for you to take a look at on Sunday and invite you to read the book if you haven’t yet. Today, we delve into a profound tale of faith, forgiveness, and the enduring power of love. We will connect it to our Gospel reading this Sunday, Matthew 18:21-35, which emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in our lives.
A Glimpse into “The Hiding Place”
In my journey through literature and faith, I stumbled upon Corrie ten Boom’s remarkable book, “The Hiding Place.” This autobiographical account takes us back to the darkest days of World War II, where Corrie and her family risked their lives to shelter Jewish refugees from the Naxis in their home. As we read Corrie’s story, we witness the extraordinary strength of her faith. She and her family, devout Christians, believe that helping those in need is a Christian duty. They live out their faith by opening their hearts and doors to strangers in dire need. Through their courageous actions, we are reminded of the biblical commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Matthew 18:21-35: The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
In the heart of Corrie’s story, we find a powerful connection to Matthew 18:21-35. In this passage, Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful servant. The story centers on a servant who owed a massive
debt to his king, an amount so immense it could never be repaid. When the servant pleads for mercy, the king forgives his debt completely. However, when this same servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller debt, he refuses to show the same mercy and has his debtor thrown into prison.
The connection between Corrie’s narrative and this parable is clear: forgiveness. Just as the unmerciful servant failed to forgive a smaller debt, we see examples of unforgiveness in Corrie’s story, especially in the context of her experiences in a concentration camp.
Corrie’s Struggle with Forgiveness
While Corrie and her family exhibited extraordinary courage in sheltering Jews from persecution, they eventually fell into the hands of the Nazis. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to a concentration camp, where they endured unimaginable suffering. In the midst of this agony, Corrie found it incredibly difficult to forgive her tormentors, especially a particularly cruel and sadistic guard.
Yet, through her sister Betsie’s unwavering faith and Christ-like love, Corrie was reminded of the importance of forgiveness. Betsie, despite the harsh conditions, urged Corrie to pray for their enemies, including the brutal guard. Eventually, Corrie found the strength to forgive, even in the most trying circumstances.
The Power of Forgiveness
Corrie’s journey from bitterness to forgiveness highlights the transformative power of forgiveness, as emphasized in Matthew 18:21-35. Just as the king in the parable forgave the unmerciful servant’s insurmountable debt, Corrie’s willingness to forgive her oppressors allowed her to find peace and healing, even in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
As members of Redeemer Lutheran, we are called to reflect on the lessons from Corrie ten Boom’s life and the teachings of Matthew 18:21-35. We all know that forgiveness is not easy, but it is the foundation of faith. Through forgiveness, we not only honor God’s grace but also find freedom from the burdens of anger and resentment.
“The Hiding Place” is not merely a story of survival but a testament to the enduring power of faith, love, and forgiveness. Corrie ten Boom’s remarkable journey is a vivid illustration of the teachings of Matthew 18:21-35. Let us be inspired by her example and strive to embrace forgiveness in our own lives, following the path of Christ’s love.
May God’s grace continue to shine upon our congregation, and may we, like Corrie and her family, be a source of light and love in our community.
Peace in Christ,
Redeemer Lutheran Church, Interlochen, Michigan