Scripture: Jesus said, “If the world
hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. . . .
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18; 15:20b, NIV
Nobody wants to be an
ugly duckling. If you are familiar with the story by Hans Christian Andersen,
you know that the “ugly duckling” turns out to be a lovely swan by the end
of the story. Since I wanted to write about the way the other birds treated
the one who was “different” I read the story again. Predictably, I
had forgotten many of the details of the story.
The duck that hatches the cygnet, which is what young
swans are called, notes that even the egg is larger than her other duck
eggs, and also takes longer to hatch. Advised by another duck to abandon
the egg, as it is possibly a turkey, she nevertheless sits until the
egg hatches. The new hatchling is conspicuously larger than the other ducklings,
and deemed to be ugly by their standards.
The “queer object” is immediately rejected and pecked
by another duck in the farmyard “society.” In fact, the ugly
duckling is bitten, pushed, and made fun of by all the poultry.
His brothers and sisters are unkind to him, and his mother wishes he had
never been born. Even the little girl who fed the poultry kicked him.
The author further illustrates his fable with
examples of prejudice and persecution. Although Mamma duck was pleased that
the duckling could swim, the cat and hen thought swimming was an absurd idea;
further, the duckling could neither purr or lay eggs. “Who can understand
you,” proclaims the hen.
The duckling spends the winter in isolation, experiencing
“misery and privations.”
One spring day, as the sun is shining and the lark
singing, the duckling finds his wings, and flies to a large garden. What
a contrast to the unpleasantness he has known until that time! His
joy at the beauty around him is tempered by the sight of some lovely swans.
Fully expecting the usual rejection, and even possible death, because such
beautiful creatures surely would be repulsed at his ugliness, he approaches
the swans. To his amazement, he is not only accepted, but welcomed - as
one of them! He cries joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never
dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
A fable, yes, but a moral one. We play many roles
in our lives. There are times of misunderstanding,
both of ourselves, and of others. We are both the object of prejudice, and
the instigator of prejudice. We persecute, and are in turn persecuted.
But we should know this:as
Christ was - misunderstood and rejected - so are we. As He is- raised up and accepted - so shall we be.
In the presence of His beauty, we, too, shall exclaim,
“I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
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