There was a time I heard someone say, “There is no evil, just misguided or broken people.” While I understand what she is saying, I have to disagree.
There is evil in the world.
Human trafficking is evil.
Molesting a child is evil.
Fleecing the elderly and trusting in a scam is evil.
Shooting the innocent is evil.
So, how do we address evil?
First we acknowledge, as we sit in our comfortable world and amidst our loving relationships, that outside our doors, in our own community and across the world, people suffer at the hands of evil.
Acknowledging it means that we war against it.
We pray. Not just a passing prayer, but a prayer that doesn’t cease.
We give. We give intentionally. We give of our time to speak encouragement and hope into those affected by evil. We give tangibly to organizations that have been proven to ease suffering, rather than profit from it. We give words of life, and abstain from pithy statements that downplay the tragedy they have encountered. We give our strength, our hope and our belief that God heals, but as they heal we will bear that burden with them.
And we begin the process of forgiving.
Suzie, how can we forgive evil?
This is the incredible news. It’s not an act of will or a decision to pretend it doesn’t exist. Rather, it’s allowing God to be angry for us.
Yes, because evil and its source collides with God’s plan for humankind. Evil occurs where and when sin is manifested in the human experience to thwart God’s will, and it is at odds with God’s plans and purposes for the world.
Sometimes, because we believe so much in grace (I’m a grace, grace girl myself), we struggle with the image of an angry God. Yet, we are foolish if we ignore the reality that the Evil One exists, or we believe that God is ambivalent about it.
The Apostle Peter reminds us,
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. —1 Peter 5:8-9, NLT
Christ describes Satan as a “murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
He’s a deceiver. A liar. An accuser. And that’s the description of evil we often toss in with evil thoughts; broken behavior from broken people; temptation; or acting in a way that is contrary to God’s hope and purpose for mankind, which is just confusing, especially for those harmed by evil.
Forgiving evil matters to God, because you and I matter to God, but when we understand that God is also grieved by evil, we are free to allow Him to be angry with us and for us as you and He together address the underlying emotions, scars and hurt.