I used to think I knew what it was to hate someone. I wanted nothing to do with them, avoided them, wanted them out of my life – I thought I hated them. I am learning now that what I felt was an unforgiving, hardened heart, not hate. Thank heavens, I do not know what it feels like to truly hate my neighbor.
Hate is an ugly feeling that turns the hater into an ugly person. I want nothing to do with ugliness. I will keep to forgiveness and love.
The hate I am witnessing first-hand is much more involved than anything I did or felt when I thought I hated. These people devote time, energy, schemes, conversations, gossiping, conniving, lurking in their hate towards me. Rather than avoidance, they are seeking my misfortune out. That would turn even a naturally beautiful person ugly.
It’s so ugly that I have to look within to escape. There is so much love and beauty in me that I hope I can withstand this hatred affront –
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.
Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.
‘ We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.’
I know all this must come. And so I wait. P E R S E V E R A N C E – Let them say what they want. I have an oasis inside that no one can touch or take away from me. ‘But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ My heart is here, in me, and it is too big and powerful to be destroyed by mere mortals. ‘The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’