The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates. (Psalm 11:4-5 NASB)
Many years ago, I heard a pastor say that those who inflict harm on others do so for a reason: they have been victims themselves.
The pastor spoke about the cycles of misery that perpetuate suffering, not only in the ghettos of America, but everywhere. His point was that all of us, regardless of our status in life, seem to forget that even those who hurt others have themselves been hurt badly. The gang member, for example, who cruelly guns down a rival has, for all his life, been kept down by those stronger than himself. Is there any wonder that he acts in such a way, not knowing any alternative? How, then, can we judge him?
This lesson was made clearer to me recently when I read a social media post from a young friend. He wrote:
TO ALL OF MY FEMALE FRIENDS:
If you need to get birth control and are nervous about walking through the groups of protesters, I will gladly walk with you and fend them off for you.
If you are nervous about going to the abortion clinic, I will walk with you and keep them away from you.
I mean this. I seriously mean this because no woman should ever have to feel even more terrified and alone than they already do when grappling with such a private, difficult situation.
This is not about my beliefs, it is about keeping people safe and knowing they are loved, no matter what.
AND IF YOU DON’T LIVE CLOSE TO ME, I WILL TRAVEL TO YOU
If you are my friend, I will ALWAYS stand with you.
Do you see the heart of compassion in this young man’s words? It is very much there, but he sees only one side. I do not know why he does not recognize the pain of the unborn child. Perhaps he is simply unaware of it. However, he knows the pain of friends who suffer humiliation and trauma because of unplanned pregnancy, and his heart goes out to them. What we see as peaceful prayer vigils at abortion clinics, he sees as mobs of angry, judgmental people who care nothing for what his friends are going through. Yes, the unborn are the victims, but so also are their mothers and the people around them.
The hurting people of this world are already inclined to believe that even the gentlest and most loving among us are only ready to hurt them yet more. Even the slightest facial expression, tone of voice, or casual word can communicate a message of judgment, shutting off all hope that the one in need will be able to receive help from the one most able to give it.
This brings us to the real question: can those who have the heart of the Father help those who do not? He alone is the Judge. As long as we try to stand in His place, even unintentionally, we disqualify ourselves as instruments of His peace.
Albert J. McCarn