“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 (ESV)
Evil. It’s everywhere. We see it in the evening news, but we’re so removed from it. It doesn’t faze us always. We are desensitized to it. Sadly, the community we serve is overly sensitive to it yet desensitized to it at the same time. It’s kind of confusing. Stories of a family death that turn into family suicide while others shrug their shoulders to it about. My heart hurts when I hear them, yet the direct impact on my life is minimal.
I received a call one night that brought it close to home. It broke me.
For the sake of privacy, I cannot share details. Satan’s grip on this world became evident as some of his followers attacked and mutilated someone physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The weeks to follow leeched the hope out of me. Anger and hatred towards Satan’s followers ensued. As I walked through the suffering with family of the attacked, I could feel something twisting within me.
I know you’re supposed to love everyone. Turn the other cheek. But, how was I supposed to advise the attacked to forgive the attackers when I myself could not?
Then I took a break and flew to Canada. The twisting inside settled and I forgot for a moment.
When Josh and I returned to our “regular” work at our youth center, life continued as normal. I continued to be there for my special friend, but I hadn’t dealt with the gut wrenching anger lingering inside.
Side note. When I have to deal with something that I don’t want to, I make plans. Like random plans. A future side business. Off-the-grid life. Tiny house blue prints. I’m sad to say these plans never make it past Pinterest. Maybe you can relate. Thankfully, God forced me (lovingly) to deal with the twisting…twice.
I saw two of the young attackers at the youth center. The first time I was relieved when he was asked to leave. Some sort of victory for “team light.” On the drive home I asked God why the attackers are not rotting in prison mutilated themselves. This community handles justice differently sometimes; I even wished for that. I craved justice for the attacked.
The next time I saw one of the attackers, I was confronted about my desire to remove them. Was it really for the safety of everyone else? Or, was it for my own sense of control over the past situation? Someone pointed out that other teens I see have committed horrific acts or may one day do so. This person wanted me to see the attackers differently. Broken guys who lived through their own trials that the devil twisted for his glory.
I stood there staring at the attacker for a while. Graciously, the Lord brought one of my favorite passages to my mind:
“…the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning..”
“For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” Isaiah 61:1-3a, 8
Jesus loves the attackers. He longs for them. The whole reason I am alive is to proclaim this message; to be Jesus to others. I don’t want to leave ministry one day twisted by the evil I see. Trusting in the Lord’s justice and hoping in His plan is the only way I will remain sane in the midst of trials. I can’t serve out justice like God can; that’s not within my power. I’ve been called to do one thing: to demonstrate love and show mercy.
As I stood there staring, I repented and prayed. I prayed for him. I prayed for the others who should not have been there that night. Their future is unclear for now, but we should pray for them fervently. God can heal every broken human; no one is useless or without hope and purpose. We are all enemies of Christ before we accept His free gift. We are all broken without Him.
Feel similarly? Here’s some scripture to dwell upon (and memorize).
“Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” Proverbs 28:5 (NIV)
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.” Zechariah 7:9 (ESV)
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (ESV)