As a recent Monitor editorial explains, many nations hang on to historic, sometimes even ancient, wrongs done to them by other countries (“Ending modern wars driven by ancient wrongs,” CSMonitor.com, Oct. 19, 2016). This collective sense of victimhood too often drives foreign policy in the direction of aggression and war, bringing tremendous suffering on innocent people.
It may be easy for you and me to see the folly of nations dredging up long-gone reasons for war, instead of recognizing the benefits of moving forward toward greater peace and cooperation. But are we always awake to the ways in which we ourselves hang on to past wrongs done to us – and the mental, emotional, and even physical suffering this can bring?
Moving beyond a sense of victimhood (concerning ourselves, or in sympathy for others) may not be easy, but we have a powerful remedy in praying to gain a more spiritual understanding of the safety and supreme care that God, divine Love, provides for everyone. As we learn that we’re far more than the vulnerable mortals we seem to be, we begin to feel a surer trust in God, and we lose our fear that others can hurt us.
The Apostle Paul said that we “have our being” in God (see Acts 17:28). To have our very being in God means there isn’t another power that can truly interfere with God’s loving government of anyone. This isn’t how things look from a material standpoint, but this deeply reassuring spiritual reality becomes more real to us, and more evident in our lives, as we exchange the resentment, hatred, and fear inherent in a material concept of life for the joy, trust in God, and love for others that come with the spiritual understanding that our, and everyone’s, life is in God.
Christ Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45).
To love those who have wronged us, and forgive them, is to know our and their real status as the loved children of God. This doesn’t gloss over any tendency toward wrongdoing – a tendency that will sooner or later need to be corrected. But it frees us from the unhappiness and destructive effects of believing we are or can be victims of evil, and supports the regeneration of those who need it.
Our own spiritual regeneration in learning to love frees us in all directions. We are not victims but truly are children of God, His own image, forever expressing His goodness and forever governed by Him with perfect consistency, infinitely loved. There can be no loss under Love’s care for us, no harm or impediment to progress and fulfillment.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: “Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 113).