I’ve been thinking a lot about wickedness lately. (Not a likely topic, I know, for a website called “Here’s the Joy.”) Deep, horrific, shocking wickedness. It isn’t pleasant to think about, it causes me to lose sleep, but the time has come.
People are making documentaries, readily available online. The Dark Side of Chocolate. Tears of Gaza. Nefarious. All of them, and more, are worth watching. But they all raise the unspoken question.
Where is God?
And I’ve gotten to know several wonderful women who were sexually abused when they were young. By men of the church. Men of respect. Sometimes their own fathers. They’re the ones Jesus was talking about when He said, “If someone is going to hurt one of these little ones, it would be better for him if a millstone would be hung around his neck.” I have visions of millstones.
Where is God?
O God, where are You? Don’t You know that the heathen are mocking Your Name and saying that You don’t exist? How can you allow this wickedness to continue?
In the past when I would read psalms about the wicked, I would confess to God, “I know that these psalms must be very meaningful to people undergoing persecution. But I don’t know of any wicked people in my life. Sinners, yes, of course, but none whose hearts are set against God, who would actually trample underfoot the weak and helpless in order to advance their own agenda.”
I didn’t ask God to make me aware of those people in my own life. But He did it anyway.
If wickedness were only a theoretical thing, or if it were only the “proud thought” that we all have, then the exceeding sinfulness of sin would never be truly manifested. Living in a wicked world isn’t theoretical. As God hit me with wave upon wave of the wickedness of man—even people that I would have formerly respected—I had to run to Him again and again with the horror. I knew that Christ was my Rock. I fell flat on Him.
Is man basically good, as our atheist and pagan friends want to tell us? Let’s look at the Nazis who would dunk a man’s head in human excrement in order to get him to confess to something he didn’t do. Let’s look at the Americans who are performing Nazi-like science experiments on their fellow humans. Let’s look at the Hershey’s chocolate company who is using children to work to death in their cocoa fields so that they’re dead by the time they’re 15, but it doesn’t matter because there are always more. Let’s look at the elder in the church who will give everything to maintain the respect of the church—even sacrificing his own family that he’s abusing behind closed doors. Let’s look at the very young sex slaves in Bangkok who are at the beck and call of English and American businessmen. The sex victims . . . oh yes. Let’s look at the sex victims in our churches.
Stopping the wickedness is what we who trust in Christ believe He’ll do when He returns. And oh, God, speed the day.
So I cry out to God against the wicked. That’s what we must do–cry out to God against the wicked. We don’t need to hate them, but we long to see righteousness prevail. All creation groans in anticipation of this setting right.
And now, in my small way, I’m a warrior against this monstrous evil. I take up the sword of the Spirit and the weapon of All-Prayer in defense of the weak and helpless as God brings them to my awareness, many of whom have no voice. I pray for the victims. I pray that they will know that these men, some of whom incredibly claim to be men of God, do not truly represent God to them.
This is the cosmic battle. Good and evil are slugging it out. Good will triumph. But evil is very, very evil. And yes, sometimes the victims will be us. A significant aspect of the peace I finally felt in confronting the wickedness was a fresh willingness for my life to be sacrifice to the evil I had uncovered. And in that, there was peace. In that, there was even joy.
The Lord has brought me into a place of darkness. But Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But be encouraged! I have overcome the world!”
For victims, the most important thing in the midst of this evil, is to know the love and grace of Jesus Christ that Paul talks about in Ephesians 1. The most important thing is to know, even in the darkness of great wickedness, that He is there, and He is love. I long for them to know, the weak and broken and cast off and kicked aside, that they can find hope and healing in Christ.
And yes, even joy.