Now I Will Dare to Say Mad Words
Reverend Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in Romanian communist prisons for his crime of refusing to deny Jesus Christ. He spent nearly three of those years in solitary confinement, alone in a small cell. His life experience was described in several worldwide bestsellers, the most well known being "Tortured for Christ".
There have been times in my own life when I've felt quite bitter and disillusioned, and that life had dealt me a bad hand. In dark times, stories by role models like Richard Wurmbrand and Brother Yun — whose worldly suffering far exceeded my own — have inspired me more than anything else (apart from Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity itself) to regain a feeling of happiness and gratitude for life.
From his book "In God's Underground" comes this description of what Wurmbrand considered to be one of his most important spiritual experiences:
It is no myth that St. Anthony, Martin Luther and many other more ordinary men have seen the Devil. I saw him once, as a child. He grinned at me. This is the first time I have spoken of it in half a century. Alone in the cell, now, I felt Satan's presence again. It was dark and cold, and he was mocking me. The Bible speaks of places "where satyrs dance," and this had become such a place. I heard his voice day and night, "Where's Jesus? Your Savior can't save you You've been tricked, and you've tricked others. He isn't the Messiah - you followed the wrong man!"
I cried aloud, "Then who is the true Messiah who will come?" The answer was plain, but too blasphemous to repeat. I had written books and articles proving Christ was the Messiah, but now I could not think of one argument. The devils who made Nils Hauge, the great Norwegian evangelist, waver in his faith while in jail, who made even John the Baptist doubt in his dungeon, raged against me. I was weaponless. My joy and serenity were gone. I had felt Christ so close to me before, easing my bitterness, lightening the darkness, but now I cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" and I felt utterly forsaken.
During those black, horrible days, I slowly composed a long poem which may not be easily accepted by those who have not known any similar physical and spiritual state. It was my salvation. By word, rhythm and incantation, I was able to defeat Satan. Here is an unrhymed and unmetrical version which gives the exact meaning of the Rumanian:
From childhood I frequented temples and churches. In them God was glorified. Different priests sang and tensed with zeal. They claimed it right to love You. But as I grew, I saw such deep sorrow in the world of this God that I said to myself, "He has a heart of stone. Otherwise He would ease the difficulties of the way for us." Sick children struggle with fever in hospital: sad parents pray for them. Heaven is deaf. The ones we love go to the valley of death, even when our prayers are long. Innocent men are burned alive in furnaces. And heaven is silent. It lets things be. Can God wonder, if, in undertones, even the believers begin to doubt? Hungry, tortured, persecuted in their own land, they have no answers to these questions. The Almighty is disgraced by the horrors that befall us.
How can I love the creator of microbes and of tigers that tear men? How can I love Him who tortures all his servants because one ate from a tree? Sadder than job, I have neither wife, child nor comforters, and in this prison there is neither sun nor air and the regime is hard to endure.
From my bed of planks they will make my coffin. Stretched upon it, I try to find why my thoughts run to You, why my writings all turn towards You? Why is this passionate love in my soul, why does my song go only to You? I know I am rejected; soon I will putrefy in a tomb.
The bride of the Song of Songs did not love when she asked if You are "rightly loved." Love is its own justification. Love is not for the wise. Through a thousand ordeals she will not cease to love. Though fire burns and the waves drown her, she will kiss the hand that hurts. If she finds no answer to her questions she is confident and waits. One day the sun will shine in hidden places and all will be made plain.
Forgiveness of many sins only increased Magdalene's burning love. But she gave perfume and shed tears before You said Your forgiving word. And had You not said it, still she would have sat and wept for the love she has towards You, even being in sin. She loved You before Your blood was shed. She loved You before You forgave. Neither do I ask if it is right to give You love. I do not love in hope of salvation. I would love You in everlasting misfortune. I would love You even in consuming fire. If You had refused to descend to men, You would have been my distant dream. If You had refused to sow Your word, I would love You without hearing it. If You had hesitated and fled from the Crucifixion, and I were not saved, still I would love You. And even if I found sin in You, I would cover it with my love.
Now I will dare to say mad words, so that all may know how much I love. Now I will touch untouched strings and magnify You with a new music. If the prophets had predicted another, I would leave them, not You. Let them produce a thousand proofs, I will keep my love for You. If I divined that You were a deceiver, I would pray for You weeping and, though I could not follow You in falsehood, it would not lessen my love. For Saul, Samuel passed a life in weeping and severe fasting. So my love would resist even if I knew You lost. If You, not Satan, had risen wrongly in revolt against Heaven and lost the loveliness of wings and fallen like an archangel from high, hopeless, I would hope that the Father would forgive You and that one day You would walk with Him again in the gold streets of Heaven.
If You were a myth, I would leave reality and live with You in a dream. If they proved You did not exist, You would receive life from my love. My love is mad, without motive, as Your love is, too. Lord Jesus, find some happiness here. For more I cannot give you.
When I had completed this poem, I no longer felt the nearness of Satan. He had gone. In the silence I felt the kiss of Christ, and everyone is silent when he is kissed. Quiet and joy returned.
This quote from "In God's Underground" begins on page 58. Richard's son Michael Wurmbrand is still active in mission work helping the persecuted church — uncounted numbers of whom still suffer. You can learn more and help with his missionary work here at Michael's website. You can also freely download PDF books by Richard and his wife Sabina (including Tortured for Christ and In God's Underground), and/or sign up for an excellent monthly newsletter giving information about persecuted Christians.