Kim Hyun-hui was born in North Korea. Under orders from her country’s then leader, Kim Il-sung, she was one of two young agents who successfully blew up a South Korean passenger jet in 1987, killing all 115 people on board. She was later captured, taken to South Korea, sentenced to death, then granted a pardon by South Korean president Roe Tae-Woo. Today, Kim is a Christian who has received the forgiveness of many of the families of her victims. She regrets her past actions and wonders openly, “Why did I have to be born in North Korea?”
How many of us ask our own version of this question? Why was I born into poverty? Why do I live in a land of famine? Why am I a refugee? Why was I orphaned so young? Why was I sexually abused as a child? Why am I mentally challenged? Why am I physically disabled? Why can I not have children? Why am I gay? Why am I married to such a cruel person? Why do I suffer from an incurable disease? Why must I carry such a burden of guilt from my former ways? What is God thinking? Does he or does he not seek my blessing and happiness? Why does he torture me in this way?
Years ago, I knew a young man named Steve whose arm was withered and useless. It affected many aspects of his life and, to some extent, made him quite dependent on others. Not once, though, did I hear Steve complain about his infirmity. Indeed, often he would smile and talk about the future and how, one day, God would give him a new and perfect body – and his friends’ hearts were lifted by his genuine excitement. God himself had given this young man the faith to look beyond his personal circumstances and to see his withered arm as an opportunity to share in a unique way the love of Christ to those around him. Steve praised God despite his difficulties – maybe even because of them – and we praised God because of his vibrant faith.
As children of God, we are put on this earth for a reason. We were known to God and loved by him even before he made this world. He clothed our spirit with a physical body at a very specific place and time, having prepared for us a lifetime of challenges through which we can learn to love him, rely on him, and praise him. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ to Paul, the apostle’s attention was drawn especially to those martyred for the cause of Christ, and we can be sure that those who overcome the most difficult challenges in this life will be the most blessed in the next. They are God’s most special children, known by him to have the faith and character needed to overcome the most testing of times.
Kim Hyun-hui will never know what became of her family in North Korea. She must live in a secret location, protected night and day by a cadre of bodyguards because of the constant threat of assassination. She knows that 115 innocent victims died, and many thousands of others faced deep personal loss, because of her actions. Why did she have to be born in North Korea? Because this was God’s plan for her before the creation of the world. Having embraced Jesus Christ and experienced his forgiveness, she now reveals most vividly, to millions around the globe, the power and reach of his love.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”