Monday, March 02, 2009

Fear and Prayers

I pray for all haters and for their innocent victims that for reasons unknown to either, but to God alone, their hearts may be softened, their grievances forgotten.

Hatred's evil came sharply into focus as friends here in Hawaii were part of a group scheduled to speak in Honolulu to a state senate committee. The committee's purpose - to consider "the authorization of civil unions for same sex couples." My friends entering and exiting the building were met by hate-filled, well-organized pickets from church and anti-gay groups shouting vitriolic slurs at bill supporters.

A mob, turning like hyenas on any creature other than their own, is not a lovely image and raises these questions for me. Is a sense of freedom and peace, believing times have changed, people are different, we are civilized, a true picture of today's society in the USA? Do we possess freedom to select our own places to live, to worship, our own friends, our own life partners? Some of us would perhaps naively say yes, the hate-mongers - using Christianity as a cloak of righteousness - would say no! They do not believe in those freedoms and use the Holy Bible as proof of their God-given agenda to prevent those freedoms to anyone who goes against their version of "the truth!"

So the shadow of hatred and the light of forgiveness have been prominent in my prayers this week. Refusing to allow fear to dominate my thoughts, I've prayed every day for my friends and for the haters.

In my prayers and meditation over hatred and forgiveness, I have been somewhat encouraged and comforted by words of reconciliation from Erik Kolbell's, The God of Second Chances. "In a spirit of reconciliation, let us forgive old hurts and forget new slights." Further, the author's questions - "Is it possible to forgive others and still hold them accountable for their misdeeds? Can forgiveness be a liberating experience for the forgiver?"

I believe the author and I are in agreement on at least part of the answers.....Yes, I can forgive old hurts and believe that forgiveness is liberating for the one forgiving. I do not lightly consider that in forgiving and forgetting, I may open myself (and my friends) to further pain, aggression and humiliation. However, I believe those assaults may be borne by trusting in the love of God, and by rightfully keeping my fear of evil at a level to enable clear thinking and right judgment even in the face of hatred.

Can we forgive and remember without vengeance and proceed fearlessly with caution?" How would you answer that question?

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in your;
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
Psalm 25:1


  1. I think we MUST "forgive and remember without vengeance and proceed fearlessly". I'm not sure whether caution fits with fearless.
    It's difficult not to become a hater in response to hate, but I believe this is what we are called to.
    Ironic that the word verification on this comment is "beless". No, I will NOT!

  2. Tess - ....I agree that the "caution" does hedge the bet on the word "fearlessly"

    Your notice of the word verification was a good catch!


  3. We are advised in the Gospel to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Now there is a paradox for you!
    It is an issue I have to deal with in my own family. I can forgive old hurts and do my best to begin anew, but I still worry about being wounded again. People who lash out don't usually think it through enough to catch themselves before they inflict further hate. They are so damaged themselves. I believe you do have to protect yourself, be cautious, as you put it.

  4. Barbara - I agree caution is something I lean toward. I'm trying to learn to use the "weapon" of prayer, prayer, prayer for the person who so easily does the lashing out - it ain't easy, I agree!