When Evil Strikes

When Evil Strikes

by Ty Gibson  |  December 16, 2012

On Friday as I walked into my wife’s office to say hi, smiling and eager to interrupt her work with a flirtatious moment or two, she swiveled around toward me in her chair and said, “Have you heard about what happened in Connecticut?”

There was shock and hurt in her voice. I knew it was bad, whatever it was. She pointed to her computer screen. I drew in and began to read the words:

“School Shooting: 20 Children and Six Adults Killed”

Sue couldn’t even look at the screen. The very thought of such a horrific act is more than human nature can bear. My stomach was immediately sick. Then I instinctively looked across the room to a framed photo of Mason and Austin, our own little guys, ages five and seven. The feelings of horror compounded within me as my eyes riveted upon their innocent, happy faces. I could almost hear the screaming and wailing of the parents in Connecticut.

Photo by Jessica Hill / AP.

There we were, two human beings, happy, upbeat and loving life just moments before, and then, suddenly, by the heinous power of a single evil act, we were drained of joy and thrust into an inescapable combination of sadness and rage.

“Why would anybody do something like this?”

“Why!, Why!, WHY! did it have to happen to children?”

“And why, God, didn’t You do something to stop it from happening?”

We can’t help but cry out—scream out—for answers when evil strikes. It’s reflexive. We don’t formulate these questions; rather they are natural, spontaneous, and immediate, composed of raw emotions and of innately known moral imperatives. We are possessed of a deeply imbedded primal sense of enmity against evil (Genesis 3:15). We know it when we see it, and the fact that we do, barring all other factors of reality, is evidence enough that we hail from a place of high and holy love rather than from a brutal and bloody evolutionary process. The image of God lingers within our fragile, fractured, fomenting souls. Our deep inner psyches, originally synchronized to the image of God, tell us that we were meant to be something so much more than this.

But it is hard sometimes, really hard, to believe in God, hardest of all when the innocent are pounced upon by evil and God seems not to lift a finger to intervene.

And yet, it is even harder not to believe. . .

because if we respond to evil by casting God out of existence, we necessarily invalidate our moral rage at it. The best the atheist can say in the face of evil is, “There is no such thing as evil. All is natural process, survival of the fittest. Your feelings of moral indignation are delusional. Get over it.”

If God is love, then, of necessity, God suffers with us in every stab and twist of pain we ever feel.

On the other hand, our innate ability to identify evil and our deeply held hatred of it is a strong clue that, indeed, God must exist, else why would we have any moral sense of right against which to know and measure wrong? If we are merely evolving animals on a brutal quest for survival, and if self-preservation is the highest law of life, then any and all moral outrage is at very least irrelevant and at worst a delusional aberration of the evolutionary process.

So then, though it is hard in the face of evil to hold onto faith in a supremely benevolent God, it is the only rational thing to do.

And more than rational, it is the only direction in which illumination and healing can be found. . . because faith in the existence of a God whose essential character is love grants us the intellectual framework within which we can form emotional responses that defy the evil rather than succumb to it. If we begin with a resting premise of faith that God exists and God is love, then we can legitimately:

  • long for and expect the triumph of good over evil,
  • hate the evil that confronts us,
  • throw our own volitional weight into that ultimate triumph,
  • validate the pain and rage of those that suffer,
  • and rest in the assurance that all will be made right in the end.

And most importantly, right now, in the throes of all this horror and pain, we can reach out to the heart of the One who, beholding our suffering plight, stood on the edge of eternal bliss and unhesitatingly plunged Himself deep down into our suffering at its most abject and agonizing level.

The cross of Christ stands as a persistent and persuasive witness that God is not aloof from our pain. In fact, by virtue of the combined realities of His omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence, God bears in His own heart every moment of pain that afflicts every man, woman, and child.

With penetrating insight, Ellen White lays out the implication of the cross:

“Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. . . . As the ‘whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together’ (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end” (Education, pp. 263-264).

If God is love, then, of necessity, God suffers with us in every stab and twist of pain we ever feel. And there is immense potential for comfort and healing in knowing that the One in whose image we were originally made, feels all that we feel.

With the suffering of humanity in view, the prophet Isaiah said of God, “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9).

Discerning that it is in the very nature of God’s love to suffer with those who suffer, Paul said, He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).

Grasping God’s acute consciousness of and resonance with our pain, David sang,

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).

As you hang your head in your hands, and as the tears trickle down your cheeks, know this with certainty:

“Not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father’s heart” (The Desire of Ages, p. 356).

Whatever else may be deduced from the biblical declaration that “God is love,” we can be sure of this: He is hurting with us.

Cover photo by Adress Latif/Reuters.

Ty Gibson Co-Director
Light Bearers
We reserve the right to approve and delete comments. By commenting, you agree to our comment guidelines. For reblogging or reproduction, see our reproduction guidelines.
  • Kessia Reyne Bennett

    Thank you, Ty.

  • AMEN! Thanks for such soothing and uplifting words. Evil/sin are SO unfair. I hate it and the more I desire for GOD to soon put an end to all of it–for good!

  • Sheninya

    Just today I went through a personal challenging decision process. I felt so hopeless and far away from God’s care. Thanks and glory to him, he spoke to me. Thanks for posting thoughts about God’s love to each and every one of us – and to me. He knows how I feel.

  • Susie Ratcliff

    Thank you Ty
    Leaves me longing for Jesus to return to stop Satan from hurting humanity, particularly the little innocent children.

  • JJ Hamelin

    I wish this revelation of the Father’s love and inexhaustible compassion as as you’ve expressed it, could leave the confines of cyber space; and that those printing presses inking messages of hope for way over there could, just for a second, be halted to print this message for delivery to those right over here. Beautifully scripted, I only wish they too could read it for themselves. There has to be a way Ty?

  • Del Orser

    Your thoughts comfort the faithful and appeal to the hearts of those who struggle to understand why. May the God who feels our pain impress hearts to turn to Him in understanding why there is evil and respond with a surrendered heart. Thanks for allowing the Lord to use you as you minister to the hurting heart. –Del

  • Thank you, Pastor Ty, for your encouraging and uplifting words–lifting us to Jesus, Who will ultimately come to deliver us from all of this pain and suffering. Oh, how we long for that to happen soon! ~Debbie

  • melvin crockett

    where was GOD when all this happened? we took him out of the schools.
    then took pray out of the schools. and now when something like this happens in the schools we ask where was GOD?
    GOD was there in the hearts of those who gave their lives to save others.
    GOD was in those who were the first responders.GOD was in people who care.Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me . mathew 25:40 proving GOD suffers too.

  • Tag Garmon

    TY,,,your thoughts reminded me of some questions upon which I have pondered for years.“` When all things are restored in righteousness and the earth is made new, how is eternity preserved forever from evil? If indeed the free thought ,choice and action of each individual is the sacred right that Love always respects , how do we as a race become” forever ” safe to have in heaven? How is the Father assured that there is never another time when this evil that has so blackened our world ever springs forth again?
    We believe the Word makes clear that sin ,with all its shame and wretchedness, will be wiped away with our tears but how do we become such “Pure Lovers ” in perfect harmony henceforth forevermore? Can we look back and find a generation in the past that would safely pass into the Kingdom come? Does the cross and the Christ remove from mankind the cup and baptism that Righteousness demands? Or does the revelation in Jesus unveil the process of awareness by which we too become in fact pure as He is pure?
    If we say God make this change in us vicariously by an act of authoritative intervention at the last day apart from our intimate participation in the process, another question emerges: “Couldn’t all the suffering here on earth have been avoided by the selfsame act of God back in the garden?” Couldn’t God have just made things right with Adam and Eve by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth? Why these countless years of sorrow?

    In history we see God speaks through types and shadows. These grow in revelatory power from Abel’s crude stone alter to the sanctuary in the wilderness, to Emanuel in the flesh. In Christ we see man triumph over sin and death. Was His experience a forecast of the inevitable path for those who join Him on the throne? Or does He take that experience away from us in full? Do we eventually become immune to sins power by contemplation of His experience?
    Do we discover somewhere along the way that this Evil we are horrified by in the shooting of innocent children is the same evil that pollutes our every self serving word ,feeling or act? The hatred I feel for any other soul is defined by Jesus as murder…as lust in my thoughts is equated with the very act of unfaithfulness.
    I cannot deny my own culpability in the sorrow of mankind. Though I yearn to be a pleasure without end to Him who’s Love has captivated my heart and draws me to the cross ,my love seems to be so often conditioned. As broken as I am when I hurt the ones I love by word or deed I seem destine to lash out again as time rolls by. As sincere repentance and willful participation in righteousness bless and heal me, I somehow end up serving myself in motive and behavior. I still don’t “always” turn from my own sin with the same abhorrence I feel when I see such cruel behavior manifest in others. I still don’t participate in “never again” without measure. Am I alone in this reality?
    I press on with hope in His promises and faith in His love. The beauty of Jesus is enough to sustain this journey and I know He will finish the work He has begun. I was just stirred by your words to see …I have no stones to throw.

  • Nice. I like the part about the moral outrage against evil itself constituting some evidence of God. Then you go on to say that the greatest evidence is the Cross. If we could get people (and ourselves) to look at the correct body of evidence, they’d come to believe God is love. But this sick world more often proves the existence of God’s enemy than God. I keep trying to focus on the Cross as exhibit A. Otherwise I descend into self-pity and doubt as fast as lightning.

  • Lucy Grow

    Comforting, thank you, Ty!!!

  • Nathalie Botha

    The Holy Spirit and God go before us – always there “NEVER leaving us – NEVER forsaking us!” – Even leading me to this very article – confirming my thoughts and my feelings at the exact time I would need it!

    In the space of 5 days I have suffered the loss of My Aunt to Cancer and My Gran to age (90). In the space of 5 days I have lost 2 Loved ones.

    Friends/family ask where is God in all of this as we have watched my dear Aunt suffer the agony of illness and my Uncle the agony of seeing His Darling wife fade away and eventually succumb.

    The phrases “They are in a better place – no more suffering”. With the passing of my Gran the phrase “She lived a long/good life” Oh how my mind rebels and I recall a sermon By Pastor Kameron De Vvasher…

    We were created perfect – we were never meant to die!!! Death entered in with Satan – ALL evil is of Satan – This is why sin is so offensive to my Dear Wonderful Saviour! Death is Ugly & Hurtful in ALL its forms! Death causes separation!!!

    I recall the following quote …

    “Not a sigh is breathed, not a pain felt, not a grief pierces the soul, but the throb vibrates to the Father’s heart” (The Desire of Ages, p. 356)…

    I prayed and ask that the Holy Spirit help me find it – God provides the quote and more in this article…Heaven has gone before me and put this email on my computer at the exact time I would need it!

    Heaven in its mercy allows the ease of suffering – Where is My God? – Right with me every step of the way – Never leaving me or forsaking me!!!

    Am I sad/heartsore – YES – I mourn the LOSS of my DEAR Loved ones!!! But Peaceful in the Knowledge that they REST in our Saviours loving Arms.

    Through Sin Death entered in – My God, My Wonderful Saviour and Redeemer has provided the Remedy and WE “have this hope that BURNS within our hearts- Hope in the coming of the Lord!!!”

    Till we meet again – Blessed are those Who die in the Lord…

    Revelation 14:13 KJV
    King James Version
    And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write , Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

  • Maureen Devlin

    Such good words to read as I try to make sense of a local tragedy.