I used to work for a man who ran an auto repair shop. If a customer drove in with a Japanese car he would refuse to work on it. Rumor had it he had thrown a wrench at a few of those cars over the years. During World War II he had fought in the Pacific against the Japanese. As long as I knew him he could not forgive the attack on Pearl Harbor and other Japanese atrocities. An unforgiving spirit leaves lasting scars.
This anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack gives us all a chance to examine our hearts to determine how much forgiveness we have.
I thought about my friend as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the day that lives in infamy, Dec. 7, 1941. This year there are fewer survivors. One 95-year-old veteran told a reporter he can never forgive because he has 1,100 comrades interned on the sunken battleship the USS Arizona. Because of my former employer I can understand the deep feelings. I can understand, but I hope in time they can both forgive.
Earlier this year President Barack Obama paid a visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima where America dropped the first atomic bomb, killing hundreds of thousands. It was the first time a sitting U.S. President had made such a visit. Later this month it is reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor, also the first visit from a sitting Japanese Prime Minister. Abe’s visit will likely renew deep feelings from that generation who fought World War II.
Seventy-five years has erased a lot of the emotion. Japanese manufacturing has become an integral part of the American economy. A few years ago the study of Japanese production methods was accepted as essential practice for any American company that wanted to stay competitive. Japanese cars are among the best made in the world. I own two myself. I have often wondered what my former boss would say about that. I’m pretty sure he has a few Japanese products in his home, whether he knows it or not.
The 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor marks a significant milestone. Even the growing scarcity of World War II-era veterans and those with firsthand knowledge of that event will create significant notice of the events of the war.
Forgiveness may be something we also hear a lot about during these memorials. Forgiveness is a hard emotion. It is difficult to forgive another for a wrong done. When memories are long, forgiveness is often in short supply. Christ said we should forgive others as we have been forgiven, and if we don’t, then He will not forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15).
The suffering brought on by war remains for many generations. This anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack gives us all a chance to examine our hearts to determine how much forgiveness we have. I believe forgiveness is a gift from God. He not only gives it when we are able to forgive, but I think God also gives us the ability to forgive. We have to seek this gift, and we have to ask for it.
An unforgiving heart is a prisoner of the past and a victim in the present. A forgiving heart is a living heart. Which of these fits you?