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Miracle Eyes
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The fable is told of a village in Holland where lived a baker named Fouke. This tall, thin man had an appearance that matched his reputation for rigid rectitude. He was intolerant of the faults of others to the point that people avoided him.

His wife, Hilda, was a frequent target of Fouke’s self-righteousness attacks. Although committed to their marriage, Hilda’s heart ached for more affection and understanding than her husband was giving her. Therein lay vulnerability.

One morning Fouke came home and found a stranger in bed with Hilda. Her adultery became common gossip around town. Fouke surprised everyone by keeping Hilda as his wife, saying he forgave her as the Good Book said he should. But his thoughts of her were angry and hard. He hated her for betraying him after he had been such a faithful and good husband. He only pretended to forgive her so that he could punish her with his righteous mercy.

In heaven, Fouke’s fakery did not go over well. Each time he indulged his secret hate, an angel dropped a tiny pebble into his heart. As the years went by the pebbles multiplied and his heart grew heavy with the weight of them. Miserable in his self-righteous burden, he began to wish he were dead.

One night, so the story goes, an angel appeared to Fouke and explained how he could be healed of his hurt. He would need “miracle eyes” that could not see a betraying wife but only a wounded woman who needed him. He protested to the angel that nothing could assuage the guilt of her past behavior. The heavenly messenger replied: “You cannot change the past or heal its hurt. You can only look at your wife with vision of new eyes.”

Wearied by his own judgement misery, Fouke asked how he could receive those miracle eyes. The angel said: “Ask, and they will be given. And each time you see Hilda through your new eyes, a pebble will be lifted from your heart.”

Fouke did ask and, before his amazed gaze, Hilda began to change as he saw her as a needy woman who loved him. The angel kept her promise and removed the pebbles one by one. The once-stubborn husband was bringing Hilda back into his heart. Their marriage was born again.

What Might We Learn from the Fable?

What might we learn from the fable of Fouke? Among many lessons would be the fact that forgiveness is more than a one-time act—it’s journey, or process, as described by Lewis B. Smedes in two of his books. 1

Stage One: We hurt
This pain is always personal, unfair and deep.

Stage Two: We hate
Hate is our natural response to any deep and unfair pain. Sadly, this instinctive backlash emotionally separates us from people who still belong in our lives.

Stage Three: Start the healing of ourselves
Here we choose to stop viewing hurtful people in the context of the pain they inflicted. We rediscover their humanity—that they are “human like us.” We also surrender our right to get even. This enables us to see the offenders differently—through “miracle eyes.” Eventually we even wish that good things might come to them. 3

Stage Four: Come together
Finally we are ready for a reborn relationship with the person who hurt us. This does not mean that we tolerate a continuing pattern of abuse. In serious and unresolveable cases, the relationship may even need to be terminated. But like Fouke, the Dutch baker, we are not only open to, but eager for, freedom from hatred and the restoration of a relationship with one whom God has brought into our life. And this is possible only through the “miracle eyes” of forgiveness.

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By Claudio Consuegra. Reprinted with permission from Mid-America Outlook Magazine, March 2008. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

1Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve (New York: Pocket Books, 1984), and The Art of Forgiving (New York: Random House, 1996).
2Forgive & Forget, 6-7.
3The Art of Forgiving, 10.

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