The Gift of Victor Hugo

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo was born on this day, 1802. He is best known in English because of his novels, Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

We have little hope that his spiritual pilgrimage led him to Christ and heaven. But in the providence of God, and by the grace he scatters so liberally among his adversaries, Hugo was brilliant in his blindness. The imago dei and the remnants of his Christian roots break forth—to the praise of his Maker.

There are reasons Les Misérables is a classic. Put your eye to the pinpricks of light in these excerpts.

  • A cannonball travels two thousand miles an hour; light travels two hundred thousand miles a second. Such is the superiority of Jesus Christ over Napoleon.
  • Liberation is not deliverance. A convict may leave prison behind but not his sentence.
  • The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves—say rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
  • Old age has no hold on the geniuses of the ideal; for the Dantes and the Michelangelos, to grow older is to grow greater; for the Hannibals and the Bonapartes, is it to diminish?
  • He had nothing in his favor except that he was a drunkard.
  • We bow to the man who kneels. A faith is a necessity to man. Woe to him who believes in nothing. A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor. To meditate is to labor; to think is to act.
  • Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face.
  • They ridiculed the century, which did away with the need to understand it.
  • Skepticism, that dry rot of the intellect, had not left one entire idea in his mind.
  • Life, misfortunes, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battlefields that have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious heroes.
  • Despair is surrounded by fragile walls, which all open into vice or crime.

Finding the Strength to Forgive

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

“If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

Forgiveness is never easy, but it’s the vital first step toward healing. A woman once wrote to tell “Dear Abby” that her husband of two years had had an affair with a young widow, who then carried his child. The wife wanted to die; she also wanted to kill her husband and the widow. But she knew those weren’t the answers she needed. Instead she prayed to God, and the Lord gave her the strength to forgive both the husband and the widow.

The baby was born in the home of the husband and wife and raised as their own. He turned out to be their only child. In fifty years, wife and husband never discussed the incident again. “But,” the wife wrote, “I’ve read the love and gratitude in his eyes a thousand times.”

By praying for God’s help, this woman received peace, a loving marriage, and a child she otherwise wouldn’t have had. The next time anger and resentment rise up in your throat, get on your knees and ask the Lord for the healing work He wants to do in your heart. We believe He will hear and answer that prayer.

Just between us…

  • Who in your life has been most difficult to forgive? Why?
  • Is there someone you have never forgiven?
  • How has God honored the times you’ve forgiven someone?
  • Do we have anything that calls for forgiveness between us? What?
  • How will forgiving now make our marriage stronger in the future?

Dear Lord Jesus, forgiveness sometimes costs so much and hurts even more! But You forgave us—and now You ask us to forgive others. Teach us the heal- ing power of forgiveness. Help us to bring this gift of love to our marriage again and again. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “Dear Abby” illustration from The Christ-Centered Marriage by Neil T. Anderson and Charles Mylander (Ventura, Calif.: Gospel Light/Regal Books, 1996).

Song of the Stone

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

“Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

Simon Verity is a master stone carver who honed his craft restoring thirteenth-century cathedrals in Great Britain. With each careful blow of his chisel, Verity listened closely to the song of the stone. A solid strike indicated that all was well. But a higher-pitched ping meant that a chunk of rock might be ready to break off. He constantly adjusted the angle of his blows and the force of his mallet to the pitch, pausing frequently to run his hand over the freshly carved surface. Verity knew that one wrong move could cause irreparable damage to his work of art. His success depended on his ability to read the signals being sung by his stones.

In a similar way, parents need to listen to the “music” of their children, especially during times of confrontation and correction. It takes patience and sensitivity to discern how your child is responding. If you listen carefully, your boys and girls will tell you what they’re thinking and feeling.

Scripture says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning” (Proverbs 1:5). By listening and honing your craft, you too can become a master carver who creates a beautiful work of art in your children.

Before you say good night…

How well do you listen to the “music” of your children?

Do you usually know what they are thinking and feeling?

What more can you do to create a beautiful work of art in your kids?

Dear Lord, as parents we seek to overcome our flaws and inexperience to become master “carvers” of our children. Give us the ears to listen for every note in the lives of our kids, and grant us the wisdom to adjust as we help shape these precious beings into the people You want them to be. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from Bringing Up Boys copyright © 2001 by James Dobson, Inc. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.