The Power of Forgiveness

By: Jill Briscoe

I had the privilege of meeting a family in Croatia that demonstrated such a prosperity of spirit by loving their enemies that they have truly reflected the image of God.

I think of the husband as a modern-day Job and his wife and daughter as Job’s daughters. He is a pastor in the little Croatian town of Pak Rak. The town was blasted to pieces during the war with Serbia, and only three houses in the main street were left standing. The little church where Bozidar Korlovic was pastor was severely damaged, and even though the uneasy ceasefire was broken between the warring factions, the pastor and his seventeen-year-old daughter returned.  They wanted to encourage others to come back and pick up the bits of their shattered lives. The little town was surrounded by Serb-occupied Croatian territory, and the Serb soldiers were visible in the hills around.

One day when the pastor and his daughter were walking to their house, Serb soldiers came through the trees and took them prisoner. They marched them up the hill to the tree line and tortured him and took his daughter off with them. After they thrust Bozidar through seven times with a bayonet, he was still alive. “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls!” he told them. “God will bring you to judgment for these cruel things, but if you repent, he will forgive you.” In the end they sent the two home through a minefield. God kept them safe, and the UN forces rescued them.

I stood in his little church a brief fourteen months later as he talked about that terrible time. We listened as Bozidar and his wife testified to a church packed with refugees. They told them that they had forgiven the Serbs for all of it. “We must forgive our enemies,” he told them with passion. “The Lord will help us. Only His love is sufficient.”

I thought of Job. I know he forgave the Sabeans and the Chaldeans for putting all his servants, many of whom would have been born in his household, to the sword. If they had tortured Job himself, he would have forgiven them for that as well. No wonder God prospered Job. The prosperity of spirit that makes the soul fat has little to do with monetary wealth.

Whom do you need to forgive? Your friends, family, servants, the Chaldeans or Sabeans? What do you need to forgive? The only place it’s possible is at the foot of the cross. There the death of Christ gives us power and permission to leave the judgment of the issues involved to Him and to reconcile!

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.