Moving On

No. 48 - 20th August 2017

At the stroke of midnight, between the 14th and 15th of August 1947, several hugely significant things happened. India gained its independence. The new dominion of Pakistan came into being, and the British Raj, which in one way or another had ruled India for nearly 300 years, came to an abrupt end. That morning I woke up in my bed, somewhere in the State of Bihar, about half way between the two divisions of East and West Pakistan. I was four years old at the time and had little understanding of what was going on. My parents were medical missionaries and very much respected in their little corner of Bihar, but I know that they were pretty terrified by the activities around them. Communal violence had broken out all over India. Where we lived, it was Hindus who were attacking Muslims, while in other States, it was the other way round. But then when Partition was finally declared, the violence really erupted as more than ten million Muslims and Hindus emigrated across the newly formed borders to find refuge among their own kind. The suffering was unimaginable. Train loads of refugees were attacked and slaughtered as they slowed down at the new border. Whole families were wiped out. Mothers looked on as their children were butchered, and men hopelessly watched their wives being raped and slaughtered.

This week, the BBC has been full of dreadful stories from the old men and women who lived through that period. And they wept at the memory of all the grief and pain that they and their loved ones had to endure.

Suffering is terribly hard to understand. We’re quick to thank God for our own deliverance, but too ready to blame Him when it all goes terribly wrong. What happened in India during those days was driven, not by God, but by the attitudes and actions of human beings. The blame rests entirely with us. However, there is another side to it. We get so used to hearing from distressed people who want to have their day in court. People who want to see justice done to the offender, so that they can move on with their lives. But God has spoken. “Vengeance is mine says the Lord. I will repay”. And if you believe that, it’s so much easier to leave all the pain and suffering with God, and be free to move on with your life. I don’t have to be destroyed by anger and bitterness. The God of Justice will see to it that one day, justice will be done. And that’s enough for me.

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