“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9).
What do you do with evil?
What do you do with a story that breathes so heinous that it rocks you to core and forces you to utter words of vengeful wrath and retribution?
What do you do with a God who allows a thirteen year-old boy to die at the hands of his parents because they deemed him punishable—worthy of being tied to a tree for nearly two days in sweltering temperatures until he breathed his last? Until his wounds could no longer bleed. Until his cries for help could no longer be voiced. Until his weary soul finally succumbed to a death that, more than likely, was a welcome relief for this one who had suffered so long at the hands of those who were supposed to cradle and shape him for adulthood.
What do you do with this kind of evil?
I tell you what I did. I cried my soul dry. I got right down on my bedroom floor and pounded my fists, all the while asking my God some hard questions. I asked him why. I asked him about the possible good in the matter. I asked him for vengeance—for a tree tying to be the consequence for two adults who should have loved better. For retribution to be swift and to be hard. For a full measure of remorseful realization to become their portion. For their sleepless nights and for their tortured remembrances.
I am mad, and I don’t know what to do with these feelings. I am frustrated by them because there is little I can do to change the situation. No amount of my wishing and imagining can paint the scene as pretty. This simply is the ugly side of living, and it seems huge and uncontrollable and too big for my management. I have come to my brick wall in the matter, when turning to the right or the left yields a similar outcome—overwhelming sadness.
Neat and tidy living. That is what I’m after. Peace and love and joy and promise. A people created in God’s image through whom God’s image is easily detected. A people who get it right and who walk in the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Not a people who are hard to love and who are seemingly devoid of anything sacred.
When evil roams and rears its ugly swath of color, my dissonance finds its voice. I don’t like these challenges to my faith…to the truth that embodies a good God, despite the evil that persists. Still and yet, evil does persist, and I am forced to grapple with its insistence. God is OK with my questions and my frustrations, but if I am to grow in my perfection toward him, then I must come to some conclusions in the matter. I must move closer in my understanding of how to deal with evil’s prevalent presence.
And just last night, after my pounding and weeping and anger found their rest, I opened up God’s Word to the bookmarked section that would serve as my daily reading. Romans, chapter twelve.
God’s Word is an accomplishing Word. I choose to live the truth of Isaiah 55:10-11. No matter my frame of mind…no matter the circumstances that surround my current, I have learned to go to Scripture in my everyday. I may not always understand what I read or how it applies to my life, but I believe in the power of its effectual work. Last night stood as a relevant witness to this truth, especially as it pertained to my anger and to this world’s proclivity toward evil. In particular, the last verse of Romans 12.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
What am I to do with evil?
I am to overcome it with its contrast—with God’s good.
This is what my Father is calling me to do with the anger that persists in my heart and with the evil that insists its voice within this world.
To overcome evil’s ill effects…to conquer and to carry off the victory in behalf of my King…I must sow goodness into the soil that boasts my current. Period. That’s it. This is what I can do to soothe the ache of the story that has rocked me to the core. And while I wasn’t able to untie the hands of an innocent child prior to his death, I can, in part, untie the hands of evil by putting my hands to the task of planting God’s good seed while I am yet alive.
Of doing some good things today and tomorrow that will supplant the enemy’s intention for evil with God’s truthful intention for all things good.
Thus, I planted a little good this day.
I prayed some prayers on behalf of innocent children everywhere and asked God for his timely return to earth so that others would be spared the anguish of a tree-tying.
I baked some brownies for a summer feeding program that our church sponsors on Wednesday evenings.
I wrote some notes of thanks that needed writing.
I bought a book that needed sending.
I played a game that needed playing.
And in the midst of all my sowing, a friend came by to tender a little goodness in my direction.
Thanks, Beverly, for a Farmer’s Market treasure!!!
Yes, I think that God is onto something, for my day is coming to an end and somewhere within the course of my planting, my anger has subsided and the enemy’s got a portion of his due. Do my simple acts of goodness replace the heinous sins committed against the innocent? Absolutely not. But they do soothe the ache of my soul and lead me closer to a grasping of a sincere and sacred love for humanity.
I hate evil. Therefore, I will cling to God’s good. And for some reason that I cannot begin to understand, my Father allows me the privilege of diffusing evil’s grip through the sowing of his sacred seed via this flesh. I want to do my part, and so I pray…
Use my heart and my hands to plant your good, Father. Make me mindful of all the ways to sow accordingly. Let me not grow weary in the doing, for in time, you’ve promised a harvest of untold measure. Protect us from evil, Lord. Protect the innocent from the schemes of the enemy. And when the hurt grows too painful to bear, remind me that evil is not my end. You are my end, Father, and you hold the final word in the matter. And thus, my hearts says, come quickly, Lord Jesus, and speak you final peace. Amen.
Copyright © June 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.
In regards to buying that book that needed sending, I decided to sow some good on your behalf. I numbered the comments from my “Raising Faith” six-part series, and drew a number out. #49 is the winner of my newest read, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Connie over at Littlerad is #49. Congratulations Connie! I can’t tell you how much I cherish this man’s poetic embrace of his terminal illness. Please send me your snail mail via my e-mail on the side bar, and I’ll get you your book ASAP!
Also, I am headed to She Speaks/She Writes this weekend in Charlotte, so I will be absent for a few days. My family is on vacation next week, and I will try and post from the road. Be blessed in all your doings this weekend. Sow some goodness for God’s sake and for evil’s defeat. Shalom!