Dear Friend,

Recently, I did a Google search for quotations about the Trinity, and the God who is love introduced me to an Iranian born author named Marina Nemat.

In her first memoir, Prisoner of Tehran, Marina describes suffering arrest and the age of 16 and enduring more than two years of torment in a prison called Evin. In her second memoir, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed, she describes feeling compelled to bear witness to her experiences in prison, even though she feared what these revelations would mean for her new life as a married mother of two living in a suburb near Toronto. In that second book, she reflects on the Triune God as follows:

“The way I see Jesus has not changed much at all since I was a child, but my imprisonment and all that followed made me love Him even more. His being the Son of God makes sense to me, because I believe God to be loving, just, forgiving, and merciful. I also believe that He respects free will. After all, He has given it to us so that we can choose to love or hate Him, do good or evil. But is it fair for a loving God to sit on His throne in Heaven and let us struggle and suffer on our own? Would any good father abandon His children this way? It makes perfect sense to me that God decided to come among us, live like us, and die a horribly painful death after being tortured. This is a God I can love with all my heart. A God who sets an example. A God who has bled and whose heart has been broken. This is who Jesus is to me. I don’t pretend that I understand the Holy Trinity. But I understand love and sacrifice. I understand faithfulness.”

I don’t understand the Trinity very much either, but Marina’s faithful testimony helps me to love God, my neighbours, and even my enemies. For example, without denying or excusing the evil that her captors inflicted on her, she also describes their humanity and the goodness of which they were capable. Describing the prison official who forced her into a marriage with all its subsequent horrors, she writes, “He wasn’t all evil. There was goodness in him. He was sad and lonely, and he wanted to change, to help people, but didn’t exactly know how, or maybe he did but he couldn’t.” (Prisoner of Tehran, p. 232)

Extending love to the wrong people got Jesus crucified, and Marina also has suffered attacks for her call to show love, justice, forgiveness, and mercy to every human being. People have called her naïve and weak. But in truth she embodies the foolishness of God that is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God that is stronger than human strength. If you read her memoirs or simply look her up on YouTube, you will receive wisdom and strength to love from God.

Joel Kok