The Book of Mark tells about a man so filled with evil that nothing could bind him. In fits of rage, he tore apart the chains and broke the iron cuffs that held him. He cried and cut himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus, the man ran to Him and dropped down before Him on his knees, and Evil shouted from deep within him, “In God’s name don’t torture me!”
The Bible says,
“A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.” (Mark 5:11-13)
Sadly, Evil survived. It showed up recently and filled the soul of a brilliant honor student named James Holmes. It put on its armor, picked up its weapons, and stormed into a theater packed with innocent people. Many were wounded, some were killed, and Evil, with its flaming red hair, stood in defiance, laughing.
“Where was God?” people ask. “Why did He allow this to happen?”
There are no easy answers. But we know that God was there. God doesn’t need to shout His presence like Evil does. Instead, He carries out His perfect will quietly, swiftly, and deliberately. We’ve heard stories of those who escaped Evil because they couldn’t get a ticket to the sold-out theater. Others changed seats before the movie began, unwittingly removing themselves from Evil’s path. Heroes risked and some gave their lives to save the lives of others. Prayers came from those hiding behind the theater’s seats. Miracles happened beyond explanation. A pregnant woman suffered a critical wound to her stomach, but her unborn child rested in her womb unharmed. A young women was shot in the head and lived because the bullet entered and followed the exact path of a birth defect—an undetected narrow channel in her brain. These are a few of the stories we’ve heard, and certainly there are others. Yes, God was there where Evil thought it reigned.
In the aftermath, we pray for the victims of the Colorado shooting and also for James Holmes. Evil might not always come out of the possessed man and be drowned in the sea, but Evil knows the power of God. In the end Evil will bow down and beg God for mercy. But until that day, we put aside questioning why and believe by faith that our loving and merciful God is with us—our God who makes goodness rise like angels from ashes.
Note to readers: Just after I published this post, I saw this. “Angel in Clouds Above Theater Vigil.” God does work in mysterious ways.