Corrie Ten Boom told the story of coming face to face with one of her previous concentration prison guards, a cruel man who had hurt and humiliated her and her sister dreadfully. At the end of her preaching, he held out his hand, asking for her forgiveness.
Corrie said, “I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I know that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, “Jesus, help me!” Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me and I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arm and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother,’ I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard, the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God so intensely as I did in that moment!”
She perhaps had an idea of how Joseph felt, coming face to face with the brothers who had ignored his pleas for mercy, and sold him into slavery (Genesis 42:6-9). As he first recognized them, and had the advantage of them, I wonder if his first thoughts were more retribution than reconciliation? Then he remembered the dreams. Now, as never before, he could see the hand of God on everything that had taken place. Suddenly he saw the Big Picture. Up to now, he had trusted God simply because he was God. But now he could see it had all been part of the plan. God needed him here, now, with these skills, for this purpose; the suffering had been a necessary part of that. There were still issues to deal with, but God was in control; it was well with his soul. The cost was worth it.
For Corrie Ten Boom too, the Big Picture was what it was all about. Without forgiving this man her preaching would be in vain. People the world over needed what she uniquely could offer – a living, breathing example of how to forgive when forgiveness is impossible. The cost was worth it.
What about you and me? Life is often full of puzzles and struggles. We are all part of a bigger picture. We don’t always get to see what that picture is all about. That’s when we have trust God simply because he is God. And the cost will be worth it.