A reflection on how I’ve experienced God dealing with evil, inspired by Hosea’s experience with God in Hosea 1.
I am deeply hurt. And I am very angry.
The results of evil I see in this world stir these emotions in me.
Initially I just see the evil the other has caused. I can’t believe how a person who calls themselves by God’s name could do such things.
But quickly I realize what’s also there is the shame of the evil I’ve overlooked.
It’s not one or the other. It’s both.
The hurt. The anger. It’s resulting from all of it.
They failed me. They failed us. They failed God!
But I’ve also failed.
So it’s all wrapped up together as I immediately call out to God: What are you going to do about this? How can this be?
I want to look away from the evil. It’s too much to bear. The devastation it has caused me. The destruction that has been caused to so many.
God, I want you to deal with it.
But He directs me to turn my face toward it. To see what has been done. To feel what has been caused.
He is asking me to deal openly with the evil in front of me.
The evil of unfaithfulness.
The evil of lives ruined.
The evil of withholding love.
The evil of broken trust.
Why God? Why must I know these evils? Why must we experience them firsthand? Why would I willingly allow myself to enter into such difficulty?
And then He gently shows me. The wounds. His wounds. How the evil that’s been done has wounded him.
And He reminds me that it’s in the shared hurt. It’s in the shared anger toward the evil. It’s in the shared wounding. That healing can be found.
And He reminds me that it’s in the shared hurt. It’s in the shared anger toward the evil. It’s in the shared wounding. That healing can be found.Tweet
It’s in that space. In the aftermath of the destruction. In the complete awareness of evil. That He can rebuild. That He can restore.
That He can construct what was always meant to be.
It’s there. Where transparency is the only way forward. Where integrity is the only thing that matters. Where sacrificial love is the only power someone wields.
It’s there. Where God will bring beauty from the ashes. Where God will bring order to the chaos. Where God will make me whole in the midst of my brokenness.
I am deeply hurt. And I am very angry.
But in sharing in our woundedness together, I am healed.
In recent years, we’ve continued to see the public failures of popular Christian leaders. And we see the path of destruction it leaves.
This is how it typically goes: A leader has a charismatic personality and tons of gifting. God seems to use them in impactful ways and tons of people start to “follow them” or look to them. An organization is started around them, mostly by those who are looking to this leader to continue to be the one used by God.
So a two-sided complex emerges. The leader begins to see themselves thru the eyes of their followers (as the person God works thru). And the followers (sometimes board members and employees of the organization as well) begin to treat the leader as having a different level of relationship with God.
The Deceiver sneaks into this and convinces the leader to do evil. The leader is eventually “found out” and may even be confronted. But usually they deny the evil, sometimes play the role of the victim, and then crucify those who come against them. And the destruction that the evil causes is widespread. To all those involved.
But it’s not just happening in contexts with well-known leaders. My story includes this same sort of thing happening in a small church I served in. I was an employee who challenged the inappropriate behavior of the leader. My wife and I were crucified for it. The leader’s “followers” defended him (most of the board were followers). We soon had to leave, terribly wounded. Later things would come to light that were far worse than what we even could have imagined. And we will always wonder if they could have been stopped if someone just would have listened.
I almost walked away from ministry because of this experience. It was devastating. And I honestly understand when people walk away from church altogether because of them. I get it. I really do.
So when these recent situations come up, I’ve begun to realize that I re-live all of the emotions of what I went thru all over again. All of the personal hurt. All of the anger toward the leader. All of the distrust toward the ones around the leader. All of the not understanding where God is. All of the pain for those who are the victims of the horrendous evil.
Over time God has shown me that though I will not be able to escape the evils of this world, He can in a miraculous way use what was meant for evil to accomplish some sort of good (as in the story of Joseph in Genesis). It doesn’t take away the pain caused by the evil. The scars are still there. But the wounds can be healed.
And that happens when I enter into the wounds that evil has actually cause Him, me, and others. God himself has been wounded. And it’s thru His own wounding that God begins to rebuild what was always His purpose: people filled with love for one another.
The good God can bring is genuine love for one another as we recognize our own brokenness (both by the evil we’ve caused and the evil that’s been caused to us), and lean into the miraculous love He has shown us by taking all of that upon Himself.
This sort of thing is only experienced among people who fully surrender to God’s plan as they turn from their own participation in evil -via transparency and owning their own personal sin – and the receiving of love from those around them who are reciprocating that same level of surrender.
My hope in sharing my own struggles with these things is that maybe someone else will also find healing in the midst of the deep hurt and anger.