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Forgiveness

Weekly Devotionals

Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Forgiveness is never easy especially when the wounds are still fresh.  Nor is it easy when people don’t recognize or acknowledge the pain they’ve caused you.  Most of us would rather forget than to forgive.  I just read “Unbroken” a story of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand.  Louis Zamperini is a war hero, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theater.  He spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then survived more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in three brutal Japanese war camps.

Zamperini, being a former Olympian was spared by the Japanese to be used as a propaganda tool.  Although He was kept alive, his celebrity status made him a target for many of Japanese prison guards.  He was humiliated, starved, subjected to medical experiments, slave labor, and disease.  There were countless prison guards who made Louis’ time in Japan unbearable Mutosuhiro Watanabe was worst of them all.  It was as if Watanabe’s sole mission in life was to make Zamperini’s life unbearable.

When Japan surrendered and the war was won, Zamperini upon returning home struggled with alcoholism, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, and rage.  Almost every night Watanabe showed up in his dream tormenting him.  Eventually, Zamperini became fixated on the idea going back to Japan to kill Watanabe paying him back for all the heartache that he’s caused.  With his marriage on the ropes, unable to hold down a job and with everything coming undone Zamperini was practically dragged to a Billy Graham meeting by his wife.   After storming out of the tent the first night, Louis returned for one more evening.  That night, as Billy Graham preached Zamperini saw his life passing before his own eyes.  He realized he needed not revenge but he needed Christ and His forgiveness.  Louis remembered the promise he made to God when he was floating in the south Pacific “God, if you let me, I will serve you for the rest of my life”.  Louis walked up to the stage and surrendered His life.  Upon the conversion, Louis traveled the country sharing his story.  In 1950, Zamperini returned to Japan for the first time since the war to address the Japanese war criminals, many of old guards that made Zamperini’s life miserable during his time there.  He shook their hands and embraced them as if they were old friends.

Mutsuhiro Watanabe was never captured and most people thought he was dead.  Years later when Zamperini found out that Watanabe was not dead, Zamperini wrote a letter forgiving his former tormenter.  Here is the video of Zamperini reading the letter that he wrote to Watanabe.

I loved this book and it should be on everyone’s summer reading list =)