I couldn’t figure out why for a time a still small voice kept repeating this phrase to me, “There’s no room for hate, only love.”
It was at a time when it seemed like hate was thrown at me in a lot of places I went to–sometimes in a big way, but most often in small ways–like underhanded comments meant to harm in a passive aggressive manner. It was very sneaky and there was really no way to put a finger on the person or the culprit, like a snake slithering along and biting you, then weaving back into its hole.
My husband and I would go visit Syrian refugees who had pretty much lost everything and had to flee their countries for their lives. They would feed us large helpings of elaborate displays of homemade food from their country and the love poured out of them despite our differences in faith.
I did my best to ignore the attacks, but that seemed to only grow the problem bigger. Sometimes I made the mistake of fighting back. I confess it wasn’t always a Godly response in the midst of constant pressure. At the time, I had also been rejected by many people. When I tried to address the issue with them, they most often would just ignore my attempt at discussions so I would have to guess at what was going on.
While in the midst of these attacks, my husband and I were invited to churches and many church members hosted us at their homes. We were blessed not only in getting to know other believers in Christ, but also with tours of their cities, beds to sleep in, and meals where we fellowshipped with each other. At the church services we were able to encourage people and see new people get to know Christ.
However, I was still dealing with many difficult situations in my life. Most aspects of my life had just caved in on me and I had been asking for help. At the same time, I was fighting an onslaught of more problems being thrown at me. I thought my attempts at getting help would do good but more often it caused more problems. I was looking for a love response but I often got hate instead.
In order to feel better, I would seek out people who were struggling more than I was. I was able to encourage many homeless people on the streets of San Diego. My tears turned into joy when I visibly watched people being healed by prayers. Then, we started to get bread donations through my husband’s non-profit. We would walk the streets with these donations and give out the bread and pray to help alleviate some of their struggles. Friends affiliated with other groups wanted to participate, so we increased the bread outreach to many people and groups in San Diego.
However, I had been sharing honestly, maybe too honestly, with some people about my struggles–Instead of growing closer to people, as I had hoped, my sharing pushed people away. I learned that most people don’t really want to hear about your problems. It’s easier just to say “things are fine,” smile and move on. But I wasn’t fine, my life was falling apart. People wanted a smiling person not a hurting person. So my phone stopped ringing. Few people sent personal texts and I was mostly on my own except for a few friends who walked this strange journey with me and who I am very grateful for.
I found joy in going to worship services and singing, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10. Also, it was at this time that I really felt the Lord’s closeness like never before and understood that He truly is our personal friend.
I was reading an article on church discipline at bible.org that referenced the verse Hebrews 12:6-10. “Sin always destroys people and relationships. So to be indifferent toward a sinning brother or sister is to hate, not love that person.” Here in the verse was the small voice reference I kept hearing, “there’s no room for hate, only love.”
Without input from others, I went to the Holy Spirit in prayer to seek wisdom. Was I the one hating or was it the other people around me? Were people judging me for a perceived sin they thought I was doing? If so, why weren’t they directly talking to me about it as the Bible demands in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you, if they listen to you, you have won them over.” No one had confronted me about a problem.
Because I was getting so much clobbering in the world, I started to focus too much on what was happening and trying to figure it out. But we are called “to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Through it all though, I found ways to encourage other people to focus on the Lord and pray for them. This would turn my discouragement into love and an outward focus helped to keep me from worrying too much. This life can seem like one of contrasts but I believe we can always overcome, “Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:4-5
I still don’t have all the answers, and have a lot of work to forgive people. It’s not easy to love your enemies. My initial response to hate is not always the right response but ultimately in the end I choose that still small voice that says “there is no room for hate, only love.” And once you’ve met the one true source of love, Christ, there really is no other option.