Suffering More Than Me – Thoughts on Judgment

 I recently wrote about a quote from Voice of the Martyrs’ monthly publication.  Here is the quote (and I apologize; I tore out the quote without noting which issue I got it from):

“Holding a gun to Pastor Kap’s head, the army commander asked if he had any last words.  ‘I am ready to die, so I have no last words,’ Pastor Kap replied.  ‘But you are suffering more than me because you don’t know Jesus.  So I am praying for you.’  The commander and his men had [already] spent 24 hours torturing Pastor Kap because he was a Christian pastor.  They wanted him to stop serving the people of his village in Myanmar (Burma).  Thankfully, Pastor Kap was later released unharmed.” 

I wrote about the irony that though he was tortured for 24 hours, he was considered unharmed, comparing it to 2 Cor. 4.  (Click here to read.)

However, there was another thing which really impressed me:  Pastor Kap’s incredible grace for his torturers. He understood that they were suffering more than he was.  He had patience for their journey and for where they were in life. 

Grace and patience for someone else’s journey and the understanding to recognize where they are in that journey – hmmm….  I have to be honest and confess that I lack those things.  Not only do I see my own horrific shortfalls in this area, but I see it all around me in others as well.  Frankly, I think God lets me see it in others so that He can gently tell me, “Yeah, you’re right, that’s pretty ugly…but Stacey, I want you to see how awful it is so that you’ll stop being that way yourself.”

Case in point: I recently got frustrated with a friend “Jan” who was judging someone “Lyn”.  What “Jan” was judging was “Lyn’s” critical spirit toward a mutual friend.  Seemed a bit ironic to me – she was judging someone for judging someone else.  Personally, I could see where “Lyn” was coming from.  Not that I agreed with it, but I was sympathetic to it and to the process it was going to take to work through her insecurities and judgments about the particular issue/person.  So, as I’m thinking about just how unattractive a spirit of judgment is, and how “Jan” should have a little more understanding and grace for “Lyn’s” journey…and thinking “Jan” should be quicker to pray for “Lyn” and her growth and understanding and be slower to criticize…as I’m thinking ALL of that…I realize that I am no different than the pot calling the kettle black.   I wasn’t praying for “Jan’s” growth and understanding, I was judging her.  I was judging her for judging “Lyn” for judging someone else.  WOW. 

Pastor Kap told his torturers, “You are suffering more than me because you don’t know Jesus.”  It would have been so easy to judge them, so easy to criticize.  After all, what kind of person tortures another person???  Pastor Kap’s answer for that question is this:  people who are suffering because they don’t know Jesus.    

We judge and criticize for so much less.  We judge people who simply live differently than we do: they spend their money differently, worship differently, educate their children differently, dress differently, etc.  But do we stop to wonder why they are different?  Is it possible that their journey is different than ours?  Is it possible that they are in a different place in life and in their walk with Christ than we are? 

For myself, I have been praying that I would have a heart that is so filled with love and understanding for others than when I see things which I am tempted to criticize, I would instead be filled with prayer, compassion and understanding for them.  I am praying that I would be like a nurse diagnosing a dear friend with a disease, filled with concern and love and willing to help – not like a judge who is ready to condemn the accused.