Don’t Let Evil Off the Hook

source: jared polin via Flickr
source: jared polin via Flickr

But if people are bound in chains,
    held fast by cords of affliction,
he tells them what they have done—
    that they have sinned arrogantly.
Job 36:8-12 (NIV)

As I have read the words of Job’s friends, I find the theme has remained largely the same despite the nuances of their arguments. Elihu thinks he’s adding to the argument, but I find him regurgitating the same: If you’re suffering it’s because you’ve sinned against God. Repent and your suffering will be over and you will be blessed.

As I read through these words, I can’t help but think of the endless examples of innocent humans suffering inconceivable, undeserved cruelty. My mind recalled the three women in Ohio who were kidnapped and enslaved inside their kidnappers home. I think of the young ladies Taylor worked with in Uganda who were terrorized, raped and “wed” to members of the LRA terrorist group. I think of the girls whom Madison met in Asia who were sex slaves. I think of Jewish children terrorized, herded liked cattle, and marched to the gas chambers. I could go on, and on, and on.

I find it interesting as I look back across all of the debate between Job and his friends that the presence of evil has not once been raised. At the beginning of this poem we find that Job’s sufferings begin when the evil one, motivated to destroy Job’s faith in God, seeks to afflict the righteous man. Job, his friends, and his wife have spoken only of two parties in this drama: God and Job. They remain blind or ignorant to the presence of evil who was at the source and plays an active part in Job’s circumstances.

Growing up in the latter part of 20th century America, I was raised to believe in the goodness of humanity. I learned to walk as Armstrong walked on the moon. Nothing was impossible. The generation of peace was putting and end to Vietnam, the corruption of Watergate, and ushering in a new utopian era of love, peace, and ecology. If we embraced our inherent goodness, loved our fellow man, and cared for the Earth we could build a world where there is no violence, war, hatred, or prejudice. And, no one talked about evil. We didn’t discuss the necessity of confronting and overcoming forces (spiritual, physical, mental, educational, religious, social, corporate and/or political) who seek to destroy, dominate, steal, hoard, enslave, and kill whether for twisted, self-centered ideology, lust for personal power, or senselessly for no reason at all. It seems to me we continue to make the mistake of Job and his friends.

Today, Job has me once again mulling over senseless suffering and human tragedy. I am thinking about evil. I don’t want to be blind to it or ignore it. I don’t want to let evil off the hook or leave evil out of the conversation. I want to expose the darkness to Light. I want to confront that which diminishes and seeks to destroy both Light and Life. I desire to fight the good fight each day armed with love, forgiveness, joy, peace, patience, random acts of kindness, goodness, gentleness, fidelity, self-control, a pen, a paint brush, a blog post, a computer keyboard, and an internet connection.

Who’s with me?

2 thoughts on “Don’t Let Evil Off the Hook”

  1. Nice post Tom.

    Many in the modern church seek to blame God for all bad things that happen and never consider the Devil. Throughout the gospels, he is seen as the one tempting Jesus. He offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says they are his to offer. Jesus speaks to the pharisees about how they are motivated and speak through their father, the devil. Many sicknesses in the gospels are attributed to demonic possession or oppression. In Corinthians we are told it was the devil who caused the crucifixion of Jesus because he didn’t realize it was God’s plan for him to be a sacrifice. Paul also speaks of how the devil was defeated through the work of Christ on the cross in Ephesians and other books. .

    In Job, we’re not totally clear why Job is attacked by the Devil, why God allowed it, it’s not totally clear. However, we are clear who is the one who did the evil to Job.

    I don’t mean to open a theological discussion about the nature of Satan, there’s enough blogs arguing these things ad nauseum. However I’m glad to see some consideration of it because the existence of a source of evil we can battle against instead of “humbly” accepting all evil on the earth as part of God’s unknowable plan is definitely preferable.

    C.S. Lewis wrote “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight” (C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letter. 1941, p. 3).

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