Evil is Not the Final Word

Note: due to a WordPress error, the post looks like it was published on February 3rd. It was, in fact, published on the morning of March 28th.

On Easter Sunday evening, a suicide bomber targeted a busy park in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. Boasting a water area and a playground, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park is a popular place.The victims of the bomb blast were primarily women and children, likely out for an Easter celebration in the city before heading back home for the evening. A splinter group of the Taliban claimed responsibility and unapologetically stated that “The target were Christians.”

The cowardice of the act nauseates the stomach; the horror sickens the mind. Along with those that are dead are the wounded, sent to hospitals in resource-poor settings, where good medical care is difficult to get and people who might live, should the resources be available, end up dying.

Istanbul, Brussels, Baghdad, Pakistan – it goes on and on and on. We grow weary and have bomb fatigue, our humanity challenged to remain compassionate, our spirits challenged to pray even as we wonder what good it will do.

“Has not Pakistan suffered enough?” I shout the words inside, knowing that few would understand my reactions. An opinion piece in the New York Times echoes some of my thoughts:

For much of the world, the deaths of Pakistani children are forgettable. They are, after all, the progeny of poor distant others destined to perish in ever more alarming ways. It may not be said, but it is believed that they are complicit in their own deaths, guilty somehow — even at 2 or 4 or 6 years of age — of belonging to a nation that the world has appointed as its own boogeyman, a repository of all its vilest trepidations. In December 2014, Taliban militants gunned down more than 140 people at a school in Peshawar, a vast majority of them students. A former American ambassador, speaking of his government’s lack of desire to help the Pakistani government fight extremists, put it succinctly: “There is great Pakistan fatigue in Washington.” NYTimes OpEd by Rafia Zakaria “The Playgrounds of Pakistan.”

Yet, the Pakistani flag lights up my newsfeed and I am grateful for friends who do understand, who know and love this place that so many of us called home.

Where do we go during times like this, when evil stalks and lurks? Where do we go when the world feels crazy and safety is as illusive as winning the lottery? What do we do? Where do we go? How do we respond?

I have become tired of judging others for reactions that are just as valid as mine. We create a people’s court, judging the hearts of people by the status of their social media pages. As though judging the hearts of others will add comfort to the situation.

Still, the familiar green and white of the Pakistani flag brings me deep comfort, and knowing there are so many of us that love and pray for this country is a balm to my soul.

I have written about evil before, and my words grow stale in the face of more and more tragedies. But I am compelled to continue to write. I am compelled to continue to feel through writing.

“The extreme greatness in Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it” says Simone Weil. 

So I go to the words of Scripture, knowing that they have brought comfort through the ages to men and women who have faced evil, men and women who have gone through suffering and lived to write about it. 

They all have one thing in common, and it’s something that I think about as I write. They all knew that evil wouldn’t win. They all came to an understanding that there was something bigger going on, that suffering and pain were not the end game. They all knew that when you walk through the fire, there is a God who suffers with you, you are not called to suffer or face evil alone.

I am not given answers. I’m given something better than answers: I’m given a glimpse into God’s heart as seen through people who never gave up their faith. Evil does not get the final word. Suffering will somehow, in a way that I cannot possibly understand, be redeemed.

Somehow that is enough for me. It must be enough, for I have nothing else.

It is now the evening of Western Easter, and I know only one thing: that He who endured the cross and  continues to redeem the world has not left us to suffer alone. He is with the men, women, and children of Pakistan. And I defy anyone who would say differently.

“The Resurrection is not a peacetime truth for occasional, feel-good, religious nostalgia. The Resurrection is a wartime truth for everyday, tear-smeared, blood-stained allegiance to Jesus.” quote from Duke Kwon 

___________

A friend who also grew up in Pakistan reminded me of this Psalm today:

The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.

Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!

Psalm 113

 

19 thoughts on “Evil is Not the Final Word

  1. I ran across this post of yours today and found it so very good and meaningful. This morning, before seeing your post, I was studying Revelation 5 and had the very same thought as you have written here: God is in control, not only despite suffering, but through it and because he suffered himself. That’s what Revelation 5 tells us…
    vs 6-10
    Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
    “You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
    because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
    You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”

    The “scroll of destiny” in this passage is the scroll that holds the plan and purposes of God for judgment and blessing of our world. It is the story of God making things right for earth. Jesus is the only one worthy to open these plans Because he suffered and was slain. What a wonderful mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not felt as upset as I may have over the news because I am simply too weak from chemo to handle more. So I was glad that you included suffering along with evil as things that God will redeem. Yes, none of my physical misery is wasted, none of our Pakistani famiiles’ pain and anguish is wasted or meaningless. God is in control. That is what I hang on to on days like Sunday, when I was too weak to sit up by the evening and the evening news was so awful. I don’t have to make sense of it, I just hold on to Jesus and trust He is at work, however mysteriously. He promised all things will work together for my best result, and for our Pakistani families, too. It makes no sense right now, but if God is good and God is God, then someday it will. I believe.

    Like

  3. Thanks for your thoughts. I have found it hard to conjure up any emotion. It is as if my emotions are dried up when I hear of another tragedy. Sometimes I feel like I’m going numb. But l love the Psalm you added. It brings me great encouragement.

    Like

  4. Thank you Marilyn, we all need help in keeping our eyes on the one who can give us perspective and hope. your writing helps at times like this. Truths we know but need to be reminded of. Bless you today and our dear friends in Pakistan.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this computer edits things that should not be edited! In the comment above, ‘edit’ should read ‘evil’. Yes, evil will NOT win.

    Like

  6. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble (other translations: tribulation). But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We as Christians in the west have not yet suffered for our faith in the ways that our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and other countries are suffering. May God give us the grace and strength of faith to face whatever may come. In the meantime let us not grow weary in praying and doing whatever we are able to come alongside them in their sufferings.

    Liked by 1 person

Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s