I lived many challenges since childhood; whether at school or at the Army or even the rest of the stages, but I discovered that the hardest challenge did not come from the outside but it came from the inside, and I had to deal with it as well .
The Majority Pressures:
I’m a Southern citizen, I was born in Northern Sudan in Atbara; I was raised in a Christian family, and I went through all the age stages within the church: from Sunday School and Young Adult Ministry to Youth Ministry, and throughout all this period I thanked God that my parents did not shorten my support; although they were humble and had a very low income .
The whole situation varied a lot at school, we were Christian minority and the majority of students were Muslims; so we had to attend all the Islam classes, we even memorized some verses from The Quran, and it didn’t stop at that, but– at a very young age– a lot of pressure was practiced on us from the Muslims surrounding us to leave our Christianity in order to join the Islamic faith.
At that point my dear parents played their role, they used to teach me that we will continue as Christians, giving me many Christian lessons that taught me how to answer every question regarding my Christianity, till I reached the secondary stage and I entered Juba university; where I spent five years, then graduated, and started a new chapter in my life.
A New Place:
After my graduation, it was time to serve my country, and I thank God that He arranged for me a unit to join in the regular forces in Juba, and precisely in the Wild Life Unit; where I got respect from all my colleagues, I spoke a lot about life with The Christ and how to face challenges against Christianity joyfully.
And because I’m a military man, I used to work in the Office of Unit Management; so it was hard for me to find enough time to practice my Christian worship, but God prepared that the manager of the military unit –whose rank was brigadier-general–was a Christian believer. So we used to sit together every morning and we assigned some time to study The Bible, we also invited more soldiers to join us. It was too much that when the soldiers came to inform the Office of Unit Management in the early morning, they were notified that the management staff – they meant us– are doing their prayers inside; which was an exceptional matter in the military and had a great influence on them and on us too.
The Cruelty of Injustice:
One day, we were in the military unit management, one of the colleagues came to us with rage accusing us of manipulating some of his procedures and questioning our integrity and competence. So; I found myself asking him not to rush with his terrible accusations, but he remained angry, and went on shouting, then he started uttering offensive words against me.
“This is not true my friend… Calm down and everything will be alright”, I replied nicely.
“You’re cowardly and afraid of me, and you do not know who is behind me, and I can kill you while you are in your place”, he said.
At that moment I felt really angry, and I returned to my old nature, so I found myself answering him: “I’m not a coward and I can fight with you as well “. And here some people interfered telling me : “Simon, you’re a man of religion”
“But I’m not a coward too” I replied. Then I left him and went out with anger and sorrow; not because of him or because of them, but because of me!
A Fake Forgiveness:
After the former situation I talked to myself wondering:”Why did I do that?” Then I prayed, and I vowed not to say anything against the man who insulted me, and I prayed saying: “O Lord, You are the one who knows all that has happened between me and this man, and I have forgiven him”.
Despite that decision, I discovered that whenever I see this man come into our office, the same scene automatically comes to my mind. I stop talking or laughing, and I feel very angry at him. So I went back to pray to God and said to him:” Why is this feeling coming back to me? Why am I still trapped in this? ”
While I was praying one day, I felt that the Lord is telling me: “My son, love doesn’t need an apology, when the Christ died on the cross many people rejected him, and his disciples fled, even his dearest disciples Peter and John; and yet the Christ did not wait for them to come to him saying “O Lord, forgive us”.
The End of Bitterness:
Here I realized my huge mistake; I was waiting for the man who threatened me to be the first to come and apologize in front of all, as if every time I say: “ I have forgiven you”, reminding him of what he did that day, as if I put all these events on the shelves of the wardrobe in order, and when it’s time I retrieve them in the same order and the same days.
By the time I figured out God’s purpose, to have the same nature that He Has, to go and reconcile even with whoever insulted us. I decided to go to the man who hurt me and speak to him; although I wasn’t able to shake hands at the beginning, I told him: “ Buddy, I’m sorry for what I did, please forgive me” then I went out leaving him.
When I spoke these words, I felt deep peace within me, and now whenever that guy passes by me, we talk to each other and laugh without feeling any bitterness or pain.
My dear… There is no doubt that we, as we are humans, face many challenges every now and then, that could be harsh on us at the time we encounter them, but the criterion is not in the challenge itself , it’s in our reaction towards it. Will we act according to our family or tribal nature? Or according to our divine nature that we acquired from our faith in the Christ?
Maybe you’re holding something against someone who insulted or hurt you in your conscience or your heart, that is why I need to tell you : Don’t act the way I did, don’t lie in your prayers to God, telling him that you have forgiven the person who trespassed against you; for the increasing lack of forgiveness in our psyche leads to bitterness and a desire for revenge, which is a bad fruit.
But we are all invited to the real forgiveness, that kind of forgiveness which Jesus Christ has shown on the cross, and then you will conquer even the hardest challenges inside you, which is the challenge of forgiveness, at that moment your heart will be cleansed and purified, and you’ll be ready to receive God’s blessings in your life.