Forgiving your enemies

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘forgive and forget”. In today’s world, most folks will say “forgive but don’t forget”. In fact, in more than a few things I read relating to the 9/11 remembrances of late, I read “don’t forgive and don’t forget”.

Yet we are truly to forgive and forget, as has been done for us. Our sins are forgiven, freely by grace, through the mercy of God, because of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross. Ephesians 2:8 confirms this,  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. And when we do as Romans 10:9 teaches us, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”, then God forgets our sins, as Jeremiah 31:34 confirms for us, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

We should do no less for our fellow man.

As an elementary school aged child, I lived in Valdosta, GA, attending Northside Baptist Church. I made my profession of faith in Christ there as a young boy, and was baptized by the pastor, Doug Reddick. “Brother Doug” as I’ve always known him has been a friend of my parents since the early 60’s, before I was even born. Though retired, brother Doug continues to serve the Lord as an interim pastor at Philadelphia Baptist Church near Quitman, GA, and remains an encourager in the faith and dear friend to me and my family, as well as so many others.

As a young man, Doug was in the Army Air Force near the end of World War II, and has always been fascinated with aviation. He and my father owned a Piper Comanche together that I remember very well taking flights in. Brother Doug recently sent me this short article he wrote for the church he is serving, which I thought so beautifully illustrated how with faith in our Lord, a heart can truly forgive and forget. Thank you, Doug, for sharing this with us!

Can God really bring good things out of bad things that happen to His people? Jacob DeShazer’s life story answers, “Emphatically yes!” April 18th marked 68years since Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led a flight of B-25 bombers in America’s first World War II bombing raid on Tokyo, Japan. DeShazer was the bombardier aboard the last plane in that 16-plane flight launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet.

Col. Carroll V. Glines tells the story in The Doolittle Raid (New York: Orion Books, 1988). After the raid, DeShazer’s aircraft ran out of fuel and his five-man crew parachuted into Japanese held territory. When the Japanese army captured the crew, they shot two of them and sentenced him to life imprisonment. For the next forty months his merciless captors isolated him, tortured him, and starved him.

After two years in solitary confinement, he and his fellow prisoners of war received a single Bible. Each man devoured its contents voraciously. On June 8, 1944, following three weeks of intense Bible study, Jake DeShazer committed his life to Christ. Christ’s love for others began replacing his bitter hatred for his captors.

His fortieth month of imprisonment found him in a solitary cell in Peking, China, nearing death because of malnutrition, delirium and huge boils all over his body. Yet, at that desperate juncture, very early on the morning of August 9, 1945, he awakened with an overwhelming conviction that he should begin praying ceaselessly for peace. He describes what happened next: “I started to pray for peace, although I had a very poor idea of what was happening in the world. About 7:00 AM, I began to pray. I prayed God would put a great desire in the heart of Japanese leaders for peace. I thought about the days of peace that would follow. Japanese people would no doubt be discouraged, and I felt sympathy toward them. I prayed that God would not allow them to fall into persecution by victorious armies. At 2:00 PM, the Holy Spirit told me, ‘You don’t need to pray anymore; the victory is won.’ I was amazed. I thought this was quicker and better than the regular method of receiving world news. Probably this news broadcast had not come to America as yet. I thought I would just wait and see what would happen.”

Several days later he learned that—at the very time he had been praying—America had dropped its second atomic bomb on Japan. That catastrophe finally brought Japan’s warlords to admit that they had no choice but to surrender.

DeShazer realized that if the Japanese people could learn about Jesus, their defeat would really be a victory for them. Then he sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “You are called to go and teach the Japanese people wherever I send you.”

After missionary training, he returned to Japan and ministered thirty years among the people at whose hands he had suffered so horribly. When Mitsuo Fuchida was saved under DeShazer’s ministry, he saw truly that God brings good out of evil. Fuchida had been the pilot who led Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. After Fuchida was saved he began preaching in Japan and the USA. He said, “I would give anything to retract my actions at Pearl Harbor, but it is impossible. Instead, I now work at striking the deathblow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies. And that hatred cannot be uprooted without assistance from Jesus Christ. He is the only One who was powerful enough to change my life and inspire it with His thoughts. ”

By our Savior’s grace,
Douglas M. Reddick

Here is Jacob DeShazer’s own testimony. What a powerful example of God’s forgiveness that can work through us!

Friends, we all need forgiveness. And we all need to extend forgiveness- and forgetfulness- as has been extended to us. If you are a believer, I urge you to go before God in prayer, and ask Him to show you where your heart needs to be forgiving. Some areas may be very evident to you already, some may not. And if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to click to read this page, and ask Him to be your Savior this very day. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions by using the “Contact” page, or by visiting a local Bible-believing church and letting the pastor know you want to find out how Jesus can be your Lord this day.