Free at last
“You can’t make me hate you.” This stunning sentence sticks in my mind after skimming through a book by Richard Wurmbrand, founder of Voice of the Martyrs. There is already more than enough sorrow hanging in the air, from the previous post, so I won’t go into his situation in great detail. But this Romanian pastor suffered greatly. He was at the mercy of his communist captors, and they offered him none.
But at least on one occasion, he still responded to his enemies with these words: “You can’t make me hate you!”
A Christmas carol, penned during the Civil War in the USA, suggests that this is not a common human response to pain. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas day” contains this familiar line: “But hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.” How many people reading this can honestly say that they have never been overcome, even temporarily, by this powerful emotion? Confinement. Injustice. After too much of it, for too long, even righteous anger can give way to rage. Hate is strong.
CareerBuilder, a company providing career services in America, has a TV commercial that connects to today’s theme. A middle-aged man drives into an empty parking lot in an average looking automobile. There is no hint of glitz or glamour in the scene; it is just another ordinary and average – even dull – day. A typical day presumably experienced by a typical person watching TV anywhere.
This man is all alone, and he does not look confident.
He fumbles around for his briefcase, and just as he is about to open his door, a car full of monkeys pulls up on the drivers’ site, and much too close. He can’t get out. Meanwhile the monkeys hardly notice; they quickly exit their car and are on their way to their office jobs, briefcases in hand. This man is invisible to them. He complains; he protests. He is stunned. He stammers. But nothing happens. They’re gone.
This man is alone, and he is hemmed in. Probably very frustrated. Can’t even get out of his own car to go to work in the morning. Why did they have to park so close? The parking lot is empty.
Looks like he will have to work his way over to the passenger door. The audience expects it. It is annoying; it is awkward. But it can be done. And this seems to be his only option. But just then, a car suddenly races in from the other side of the parking lot, at a dangerous and shocking speed, and crashes right into his passenger door. It is startling to watch it happen. It doesn’t look like an accident. And now, how will this man ever get out of his car and get to work? Can’t get out. He is stuck. He can’t get out.
Anyone who has struggled to find a decent job over a long period of time, or has experienced significant career-related setbacks, can instantly relate to how his man must feel. Frustration, anger, and even feelings of hatred, would not be uncommon in such a restrictive and confining situation. For having a substantial career equals having a measure of power, and people without power often get taken advantage of -squeezed. It happens everyday.
In terms of human power, Richard Wurmbrand had none. But Christ was with him, he said – tangibly present – when he was beaten and abused in prison and barely hanging on. Did he mean sometimes or all the time? I don’t know. Does it matter? And how could it be that there was actually love in his heart, in such an appalling situation? He had love in his heart. It sounds crazy. But, that is what he said. He had love in his heart for those men right at that moment.
Such freedom. Free at last.
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