A Forgiveness Example
A Forgiveness Example
I recently saw a movie entitled “The Railway Man”. This movie is based on a true event that happened in World War II. The main character in the movie was a soldier in the Australian Army, he was a radio operator. His unit was captured by the Japanese, and he was taken to a prisoner of war camp. During the time that he was in the prisoner of war camp there was a young Japanese lieutenant who inflicted many beatings and torture upon the Australian soldier. After, he returned home when the war was over he met a young lady and married. After several years of marriage he fell into a deep state of depression as a result of the torture and beatings that he received at the hands of a Japanese lieutenant during his time as a prisoner of war. This caused him a great deal of problems in his marriage and his relationship with others.
Several years after the war had ended he saw the Japanese lieutenant’s picture in the newspaper. The Japanese lieutenant was a guide at the prisoner of war camp Museum. He decided that he would go back and visit the Japanese lieutenant who had inflicted so much pain during his time as a prisoner of war. His intent was to torture the Japanese lieutenant and to kill him.
Their first meeting since his stay in the prisoner war camp was not what the Australian soldier had expected. The hatred and the frustration that was in his heart, was expressed to the Japanese lieutenant. The Japanese lieutenant demonstrated his regret of the things that went on in the prisoner of war camp. The Japanese lieutenant told the Australian soldier that his work here at the Museum has the purpose of not allowing people to forget what went on in this prisoner of war camp. It was his way of reconciling what he had done and been guilty of during this awful time in his life. The Australian soldier had prepared the Japanese lieutenant for a session of torture. After the Japanese lieutenant demonstrated how much he regretted the things that went on the Australian soldier could not carry out the torture that he had planned for the Japanese lieutenant.
Hatred and unforgiveness is a corrosive (just as sulfuric acid is a corrosive that will destroy the container it is in) that will destroy the container that it resides in. The Australian soldier allowed this hatred and unforgiveness to control his life for many years after he was released from the POW camp. After his resolve to forgive the Japanese lieutenant for the torture and beatings that he inflicted upon him he was able to return home to his wife and live as happy as he could be as a result of the memories that he had of the POW camp.
I am sure that the Australian soldier asked many times while he was in the POW camp. “Why is this happening to me?” When we are experiencing frustration, hatred, and other emotions during adversity in our lives that is a question that most of us will ask. The answer to this may be as many years in coming as it was with the Australian soldier. Over time and experiences he chose to forgive.
Although not recorded in the movie it could be presumed that the Japanese lieutenant tortured and beat many other POWs. Of course this would not be a comfort to the Australian soldier. The only thing that was a comfort to the Australian soldier was the Japanese lieutenant’s regret and contrition that he demonstrated to the Australian soldier. And in the movie the Australian soldier never fully states that he understands the situation. It may be that you have experienced an adversity in your life where it is difficult to forgive someone. Many people wait until they fully understand the situation before they can totally forgive. This is not necessary and in most cases we will never fully understand why some adversity occurs in our life. The turning point in the Australian soldiers life was when he met and talked to the Japanese lieutenant.
The other question that we may have is: How can I forgive? I would like to be able to tell you that forgiveness doesn’t require total surrender and relinquishment. In fact it would be easier to sidestep this subject altogether because we live in a day when so many are dealing with issues that permeate the core of our being so many of whom are holding others at arm’s length as the way to cope. Many have harsh memories that are the result of unfair or abusive treatment. Many would make the statement that they have hated the individual that brought this pain into their life for many years. As we refuse to forgive we may feel like we are robotic Christians that have shut God out of our lives and are just going through the motions because of the hurt that has been inflicted upon us. Our natural inclination is to wish upon those offenders at least a measure of what they deserve. But we must be true instruments of mercy in our lives. We must deal in God’s truth. Not blissful denial trying to act as though the hurt never happened. I am talking about the pure Word of God and God’s ways that must be applied to our life. God wrestles reconciliation from the jaws of our brokenness as He restores and redeems and ultimately makes all things right. His Word is strong enough to help us face situations where an apology never comes, or where an apology is impossible due to death, or some other restriction, strong enough to leave us free and whole heart and soul by the gift of forgiveness. That’s God’s way of doing things.
What situations have you asked the question: Why is this happening to me?
What situation have you asked the question: How can I forgive?