Dutch was planning to give you a special GH15 for Monday but he’s asked me to let you know it will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday and will instead, be a podcast. That way he can take his time in sharing his heart with you. If you are subscribed to our YouTube channel, you will receive a notification when it is posted.
Today’s post was taken from a book called God Be With Us - a Daily Guide to Praying for Our Nation. It was written right after 9/11 by dear friends of ours who have written MANY books, Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock. For a season of time, Quin and her husband Leroy attended the church we pastored in Colorado Springs.
The Power of Forgiveness
One of America’s greatest adversaries in World War II was Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese general commander who led the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a hero to the Japanese, but hated by the Americans.
Shortly after the attack, Jake DeShazer enlisted in the U.S. Air Force with a personal vendetta against Commander Fuchida and the Japanese. He participated in Jimmy Doolittle’s secret bombing raid over Tokyo some four months after Pearl Harbor. During the mission, however, his plane ran out of fuel and he was forced to land in Japanese-occupied China. He was captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war for more than 3 years.
Being close to death due to starvation and torture, DeShazer begged his captors for a Bible. After reading many passages, he gave his heart to Jesus. “I suddenly discovered God had given me new spiritual eyes,” he later said. “I found my bitter hatred for them [the Japanese] changed to loving pity.”
DeShazer’s new spiritual perspective gave him physical strength and purpose for living. When the war ended, he was released and fully recovered. He returned to the United States and enrolled in a Bible college. Upon his graduation, he returned to Japan, only this time he brought love and a message of hope, instead of hatred. Years later, Mitsuo Fuchida was stepping off a train in Tokyo when an American missionary handed him a pamphlet entitled, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan,” written by DeShazer. Impressed with the peace DeShazer had found in Scripture, the desperately unhappy Fuchida purchased a Bible and began studying it. He was struck by the words of Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He realized he was one of those for whom Christ had prayed.
“I requested him to forgive my sins and change me from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a balanced person with purpose in living,” he said. “I would give anything to retract my actions at Pearl Harbor...but it is impossible.”
This man, who led the raid of death with a great ambition to become a highly acclaimed fighter pilot, spent the last twenty-five years of his life as an “ambassador of peace” sharing the message of forgiveness.
Impossible as it may seem, God is able to reveal the truth of the forgiveness of sins to the most hate-filled avenger, and also to the most determined aggressor. He wants us to agree with His purposes and pray to that end.
What a wonderful story. Hearing stories like this one inspires us. Repentance and forgiveness actually need to be a regular part of our lives. As we go through life, we encounter many opportunities to take up an offense and allow bitterness to take root. The key is to live our lives in the secret place and maintain a spirit of humility and honesty, being transparent so Holy Spirit can show our blind spots.
Just as personal repentance and forgiveness is needed, corporate repentance is also.
For a nation hoping to enjoy God’s favor, a crucial key is repentance. Our pastors and spiritual leaders carry the responsibility of leading their congregations and those whom they influence, in learning to hear God’s heartbeat for them and for their nation, including corporate repentance.
In 2001, soon after the terrorists hit the Twin Towers, Pastor Sheets told his congregation: “Our message must be one of carefully balanced grace and truth. God’s desire is always to forgive and redeem...to turn us from our sin, not destroy us for it. He is ‘slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness’ (Psalm 86:15 NASB).
Dutch then shared some principles that are appropriate for us today:
Pray that all Believers will see a need for humility and repentance.
Pray that as Christians, we will respond to the needs in our nation with great wisdom.
Ask for a turning of our nation back to God and believe He can do so.
Ask for God’s mercy to triumph (James 2:13).
Pray for comfort in our nation, but that it would be accompanied with true recognition of our great spiritual need.
Pray that our government leaders will move with great wisdom and make sound decisions.
Forgive those who have wronged us, yet pray for justice (not revenge) to evildoers (Matthew 7:1, Romans 13:4).
When God spoke to Solomon, He said, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray” (2 Chronicles 7:14). It seems clear He expects His people to repent on behalf of the nation, not just for their own sins. This requires deep and sometimes painful humility. But it is worth it to know God will reward our repentance with His grace - both for us personally and for the nation.
Jesus said, “Forsake the habit of criticizing and judging others, and then you will not be criticized and judged in return. Don’t look at others and pronounce them guilty, and you will not experience guilty accusations yourself. Forgive over and over and you will be forgiven over and over.” (Luke 6:37 TPT)
A prayer you can pray:
Oh Lord, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, with our words, and with our deeds, by what we have done and by what we have not done that we should have. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Lord Jesus, we are truly sorry and we humbly repent. We ask for Your mercy and forgiveness. We desire to delight in Your will and walk in Your ways.
And Lord, although it’s difficult to pray for those who may be our enemies or those whom we just do not see eye to eye, we pray for Your mercy and grace. You don’t love us any more than You love our enemies. Jesus, Your blood was shed for all of us, and we are grateful for that truth.
Holy Spirit, the One who is our Helper - help us to live a life of forgiveness and humility. Just as Jesus stood up to those who opposed Him, we ask for Your patience and again, humility as we encounter those who might challenge us. Let us always be an example of Your truth, loving-kindness, Your peace, and joy, and at times, even Your longsuffering.
Thank You for loving us and having patience with us and with what we are walking through as a nation. We know that You will always remain faithful.
In Jesus’ name we pray...Amen.
We declare that Your truth remains, that You will forgive our sins and the sins of our nation.