Most of us, even if we are not Christians, are aware of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:43-44
'You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,'
but we are seldom in a situation of real emnity to put this into practise. Yes, of course, we have our petty situations, such as work colleagues 'backstabbing' their way to promotion but, praise God, most of us in the West are not being actually persecuted.
I was perusing the Norwich cathedral website, with a view to taking a visit this week, when I came across this page showing the Chapel of Holy Innocents. Here, it says, 'prayers are said for victims of cruelty, persecution, and intolerance.' But just look at the prayer found at Ravensbruck concentration camp during the second world war:
O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness. Amen.’
Wow! Now that's what I call forgiveness!!! What a saint! But it made me think....I've been through some awful times these last few years due to my husband's descent into alcoholism (though not even on the same scale as the suffering of concentration camp detainees, of course) and I can certainly see positive things, 'fruits', in myself that have come from it, such as greater self-confidence and the boldness and daring to do things instead of shrinking from them. I don't know that I'm quite ready yet to say 'do not remember all the suffering they inflicted upon us', I still need to deal with the remnants of anger and resentment, but I can certainly thank God for the good that has come from it, and for the wonderful people in Al-Anon that He has used to bring this about. Forgiveness will come...