There have been so many responses to the murder at Sandy Hook. I apologize for adding to the chatter, yet it is, I’m afraid, what those of us who write do.
The most appropriate response, I believe, is among the shortest, “Come Lord Jesus.” Yet, for those of us who cling to this cry, we must admit it is not the most comforting plea. To many people––to those poor grieving parents––Saturday must feel like Holy Saturday after Good Friday; there was death the day before and today there is no hope.
Is there no hope? Does evil ultimately triumph? It has never made sense to me when people blame God for injustice and with that indictment rest their case that God must not exist. There cannot be comfort in shaking their fists at a heaven they deny. But for those of us who profess a righteous and loving God, how do we explain ourselves when evil manifests itself?
The best answer I have ever come across is found on the closing page of M. Scott Peck’s challenging book, People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. I will quote it at length, but first two points. First, the whole book is worth reading and I only quote the last page here with the hope that you will give time to the entire book. Second, evil––horrible, wretched evil––occurs in our world every single day. Even in the United States. Even in every state of the United States. Even in the city where you live. Can we please stop being shocked that there is evil? Can we name it? Can we believe that evil exists and that our excessive culture of amusement and denial is not sufficient to numb us to its reality? Honesty is the first step each of us must take in helping to overcome evil.
Now for M. Scott Peck’s words:
The healing of evil––scientifically or otherwise––can be accomplished only by the love of individuals. A willing sacrifice is required. The individual healer must allow his or her own soul to become the battleground. He or she must sacrificially absorb the evil.
Then what prevents the destruction of that soul? If one takes the evil itself into one’s heart, like a spear, how can one’s goodness still survive? Even if the evil is vanquished thereby, will not the good be also? What will have been achieved beyond some meaningless trade-off?
I cannot answer this in language other than mystical. I can say only that there is a mysterious alchemy whereby the victim becomes the victor. As C. S. Lewis wrote: “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
I do not know how this occurs. But I know that it does. I know that good people can deliberately allow themselves to be pierced by the evil of others––to be broken thereby yet somehow not broken––to even be killed in some sense and yet still survive and not succumb. Whenever this happens there is a slight shift in the balance of power in the world.
May it be said of us that we were willing to love sacrificially. Amen.