Finding Strength to Forgive

“Finding Strength to Forgive,” For the Strength of Youth, June 2021, 10–11.

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Finding Strength to Forgive

The Lord has commanded us to forgive others. He will help us to keep His commandments, including this one.

Doctrine and Covenants 64:10

Woman in Hat

Illustration by James Madsen

Do some commandments seem harder to keep than others?

Here’s one that intimidates a lot of people: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10).

Wait. We have to forgive everybody who has wronged us? Is that even possible?!

It’s one thing to forgive somebody for saying something rude to you or for taking the last roll on the dinner table. But what about the deep wounds? Those serious offenses that can disrupt or even change the course of our lives?

Sometimes the ability to forgive somebody who has hurt us terribly can feel beyond our reach.

Here’s the good news: With the help of Jesus Christ, we are never limited to what we can do on our own.

The Help She Needed

A devout Christian from the Netherlands named Corrie ten Boom found out firsthand the power of asking God to help her forgive someone.

She and her sister Betsy had been imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II. Corrie and others endured horrible abuse from the Nazi prison guards. Her sister Betsy even died as a result of that abuse. Corrie survived.

After the war, Corrie discovered the healing power of forgiving others. She often shared her message in public settings. Yet one day her words were put to the ultimate test.

Following a public speech, Corrie was approached by one of the cruelest prison guards from the camps.

He told Corrie that he’d become a Christian since the war and had repented of the terrible things he’d done as a prison guard.

He held his hand out and said, “Will you forgive me?”

Despite all she’d learned and shared about forgiving others, Corrie couldn’t accept this particular man’s hand and forgive him—not on her own, anyway.

She later wrote, “Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. … Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

“I tried to smile, [and] I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”1

God is there to help you keep His commandments, including the commandment to forgive—even when it’s hard. He can help you just like He helped Corrie ten Boom.

The Healing You Deserve

Life is tricky. It’s messy. And it’s absolutely full of people with God-given agency.

During those times when somebody makes a choice that causes you serious pain—or even accidentally does so—you can receive healing power as you pray for help and strive to forgive.

Forgiving others brings healing to your soul. With God’s help, as you forgive someone who has wronged you, you drop a terrible burden from your shoulders that may be holding you back. Even when the path to true healing feels difficult, with God, you’ll never have to walk it alone.