As I met some friends for lunch Friday, news of the Connecticut school shooting was all over the restaurant’s television. My friends and I talked about this horrible tragedy, other tragedies, guns, gun laws and so forth. At some point one of the friends asked, “Doesn’t this just shake your faith? Doesn’t this make you wonder if there is really a God?”
Without hesitating my answer and an emphatic “No, no my faith is not shaken.”
All too often we are way too surprised at evil on earth. Evil is as old as time.
According to Biblical history, Lucifer was thrust out of heaven when, along with a host of other angels, a coup attempt was launched against God. In a continued quest to gain omnipotence, Satan entered this perfect world God created. Since access could not be gained by force it had to be gained by invitation—Satan acquired his invitation through deception by appealing to Eve’s human desires.
Satan, as he is called (though a genderless being) continues to seek being more powerful than the Almighty. Satan, evil, sin—whatever it is called—has grown in power and influence. Evil continues to acquire invitation through deception by appealing to humankind’s desires.
It is our desire for power, wealth, recognition, justice, pleasure, knowledge and dominion that drives our behaviors. We have all been guilty of inviting in evil at some level—gossiping about a coworker, stepping on others to get ahead, twisting the law to fit our thoughts, pursuit of temporary pleasure ‘fixes’ at the expense of others. There are those whose minds cannot rest without knowing all there is to know about a matter and those who desire most to rule—families, communities, businesses, churches or governments.
Evil always brings destruction—always.
I do not believe the “devil made me do it” theory. I do, however believe that evil influences our behaviors through deception by appealing to our desires.
What were the desires of Adam Lanza that lured him into this hanus expression of evil? We may never know.
Evil is always present therefore there are some things I just expect on this earth. While evil grieves me it just does not surprise me.
Somehow humanity has come to expect that we are supposed to enjoy life without struggle, or grief, or fears or pain. We live as if we are entitled to safety, comfort and well-being. When any of these pleasures are compromised many are quick to accuse God of being absent or silent or invisible or unreal.
When evil acts out we begin asking, “Where is God?”
If God is real and faithful and just why do such tragedies occur? Why do the innocent perish with the guilty? Why do the unjust prosper over the just? Why are people hungry and lonely and ill? Why are children abused in their homes, abducted from their neighborhoods, slaughtered in the streets—on their porches, in their parks and now, in their schools? Why?
Why doesn’t God stop evil? Why doesn’t God use His omnipotence to bring this to an end? How much more will we have to endure? How much more can we endure?
I understand the questions. God understands the questions. Anyone who says that we ought not question God doesn’t really understand God. God is omnipotent and can handle our tears, questions, fears, doubts, insecurities, pain and even our contempt.
The reality where we all must arrive is that this is not heaven—earth is not our home, not eternal and no promise of perpetual good exists for humankind here.
You see, Evil’s desire is not for our bodies—Evil’s desire is as it has always been—to be more powerful than God. Since Evil cannot overthrow God, Evil stops at nothing to lure the souls of humankind away from the heart of God—to turn us against God.
So, where is God while all of this is going on? Has God abandoned humanity?
No, not at all—God is an ever present help in time of trouble. Through the darkness light continues to shine—light that draws, heals, directs, warms and gives comfort.
God’s presence is known when Love rises out of the devastation of great tragedy.
Love—communal grieving, acts of kindness spreading across the world. Love overcomes evil—evil is rendered powerless by Love! We are the expression of the presence of God on earth. Evil loses when humans decide to love in spite of loss and grief.
My faith is not shaken by either tragedy or evil—it is in these times I pray all the more, “my soul be on thy guard, ten thousand foes arise and host of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the skies”
Evil will continue its rampage until the Son of Man appears in the cloud of glory.
Until then, let not evil shake your faith, rather let it stir your spirit.
Let evil stir you to be more assertive, more aggressive in your pursuit of peace. Let evil stir you to be more compassionate toward all of humanity. Let evil stir you to be the tangible presence of the Almighty in the face of great evil.
"Be not overcome with evil, overcome evil with good" Romans 12:21