Monday, December 17, 2012

On Evil

We are all still in shock, I think, from the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut.  When such things happen, in places like this board it is inevitable that those tho do not believe in God will take the moment to mock Him.  But I see it differently.

Evil has been here for as long as we have been here.  Just in our own history, we have learned much, too much, about rape, slavery, murder, genocide, and countless terrors of a dismal variety throughout human history.  While we sometimes hear how we have 'advanced' and 'evolved', still from time to horrible time we are forced to witness the depths to which men may sink.  Surely we must admit that evil exists.

Fortunately, we also know that good exists.  The very day of those awful murders, I watched on television as some children were able to smile a bit, play with each other, and reassure their own parents.  And for all the horror we have experienced, we have also been able, most of us, to be reminded the precious value of our family and children.  We have relearned something of community, and the fact that our neighbors, our nation, our humanity, still count in our hearts and minds.  Some good refuses to die, even in times like this.

I believe that God takes responsibility for evil, because it happens as a result of human free will.  We are allowed our freedom, and for that freedom to be real it must be allowed even when it leads to things like this.  No sermon here from me about how we could have prevented it, no lecture about how a deed here or a prayer there would have changed things  - we control some things, but none of us has that kind of power, however much we may wish we did.  God allows us to make choices of consequence, even when that consequence is terrible.  This is also why I believe there is a better place afterwards, where Time is something other than as we know it here, so that those children who went on ahead of their parents will be waiting for them as if it were mere moments they were apart.  God is good, and so has prepared a better resolution than the pain and torment we so often bring upon ourselves.  And it is that promise of reunion, and of safety in the permanent home which God offers to those parents whose pain would otherwise be impossible to bear.

I know some little bit.  When my daughter was an infant, on three occasions she fell ill with a very high fever which did not respond to medication.  The fact that she might be taken from us was a pain I do not like to remember, and I can only imagine how much worse the loss is for those families whose loss became their reality.  Platitudes and false hope are worthless in such a place and time, so I do not write these words casually, but with firm conviction and faith that my Lord will make solace known to these families.

The strange thing about evil, is that it is like pain.  No one touched by it is pleased, but it passes, even if it is sharp and cruel in its moment.  But we must be there for those suffering from evil, just as we would for a friend in pain.  It may seem small, but in such times there is great value in being there for each other, meeting every need in whatever we can, whether we have the word or are silent, whether we think we understand or recognize something beyond our ken.

Believers know God is our father, but when facing evil we do well to remember we are family to each other, all of us.  

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