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We face a harsh reality. No matter how much we want to ignore it, it invades our most treasured spaces. Our world is touched with a malevolent evil. The horrible tragedy of Littleton, in all its gruesome anguish, is but a reminder. The mass graves of Kosovo, the genocide in parts of Africa, the racial and religious torture of Indonesia, murder on the streets our major cities, and the school tragedies of the last few years are reminders. Since Cain killed Abel, this evil has stalked us and walked among us, attaching itself to the outcast, the angry, the lonely, the disturbed.
The city in which I live has faced a similar gruesome reality this week. The son of an anti-violence activist was found shot and burned inside his car. The bodies of two young children, still unidentified, were found beaten and abandoned in a creek just a few miles from my own home. It doesnt matter that the rate of violent crime has come down each of the last several years. It doesnt matter that statistically, violence in our schools decreased each of the last six years. Statistics dont matter to the parents of murder victims. Statistics are irrelevant for a little boy who celebrated a birthday without his mom because she was gunned down by one of her students. Statistics are irrelevant to two pre-schoolers who died in terror and pain.
|Our world is touched with a malevolent evil.|
There is a dark spot on the soul of our world. Technology, social activism, social programs, violence prevention efforts, racial awareness classes can be helpful against the symptoms, but we must face the reality that our foe is much too big to be completely stopped by such well intentioned efforts. We must know our enemy. Jesus said he has been a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). His desire is to alienate, deceive, destroy, and enslave. Evil, and the Evil One, must be faced as a spiritual foe. He is the unremitting malignancy of our world.
So what answers are there in the face of this undying beast? Where is God in the face of such a malicious foe and such a horrific tragedy?
If you will look, he is there not detached from our predicament, isolated away in the safe confines of some antiseptic heaven. No, he is there receiving the hammer blows as the nails pierce his skin and the crowd curses his name. He is there as jealousy and hatred have their day. He is there taking his last breath alone, naked, and berated by a mob of gawkers and mockers.
While the presence of evil is as difficult to understand as it is to endure, one reality remains: God hated our torture enough to be tortured by the beast himself. Calvary and the Cross remind us that God would not spare himself of what we most fear. He did so, so that when the beast strikes us, our enemy does not wield the final blow. The beast cant steal real life, life beyond flesh and blood, from one who is bound to the God of the Cross.
While heaven, reunion, and the love of God seem distant at times like this, they are the only way to rob evil of its victory and steal the permanence away from death. As we face this dark night of the soul, we do so knowing that on this side of eternity, we only see a small ray of light. In faith, however, we know it is the promised dawn. We trust that day will come when the beast is completely silenced. Until that day, lets take our cue from him who gave no easy answer for the worst of our world and offered no pie in the sky platitudes for the worlds pain. Instead, he chose to minister in middle of its anguish and take upon himself the cruelty of the cross so the beasts power would be limited and the night of darkness would one day end.
May God speed that day, and until then, may we comfort those for whom this darkness is deepest.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24)
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