OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          Evil has been in the world since the beginning.  Genesis 3:1 gives us the first sight of evil within God’s creation.  “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”  This serpent was none other than the devil, the Evil One.

            Evil manifests itself in many ways.  Sometimes evil is displayed in subtle forms.  Such was the manner of the devil’s temptation of Eve.  Satan carried on a calm conversation with the woman.  Without ever raising his voice, he laid his deceits into Eve’s heart.

            There are times, however, that evil displays itself in very violent ways.  On Friday, December 14, 2012, such a display was seen in a quiet town in Connecticut.  About 9:40 a.m., a lone gunman named Adam Lanza entered into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire upon its students, teachers, and administration.  Within a matter of minutes, twenty children and eight adults lay lifeless upon the school’s floors.  The killer also turned his gun upon himself and took his own life.  Students and adults were terrified.  Screams and sobs could be heard throughout the building.  It wasn’t long until parents heard of the shooting.  Fear swelled in their hearts.  They hurried to the school in hopes of finding their children alive.  Many were relieved.  Others were filled with shock and overcome with sorrow when the learned their child had been taken from them.  Yes, evil had truly reared its evil head.  The media and many politicians alike referred to this killing spree as evil.

            When evil enters into our lives, hurt, sorrow, chaos, confusion, pain, anguish, and death are usually associated therewith.  There is nothing pretty to be seen as one looks at the carnage left behind.  However, oftentimes there are some positive results that come from the presence of evil.  Let’s consider a few of these in the remainder of this article.

            First, when evil passes through our lives, the thoughts of man turn toward God.  Those who believe fall upon their knees, and cry out, saying:  “Father, help us!”  Others will approach Him with a singular question:  “Lord, why?”  Even those who do not believe in God start thinking and talking about him after a disaster.  They have a question they believe proves that God does not exist.  They ask:  “Why would a loving God let something this bad happen?”  (NOTE:  What the unbeliever fails to understand is that if God does not exist, there is absolutely no way to classify the tragedy as something that is evil).

            For the most part, the minds of men and women are not focused upon the Supreme Being.  Their thoughts are centered upon their daily routines, occasional troubles, and brief periods of rest and relaxation.  Trying to get individuals talk about God in the “good times” is difficult at best.  Evil forces man to look heavenward.  If they do not look up, where will they turn?

            Second, evil causes every man, woman, and child to realize that he/she is not in control.  Man likes to think of himself as a little god.  He sees himself as the ruler of his little universe.  He believes he has the power to make things happen.  He also believes that he is strong enough to divert any attack.  Then, evil comes.  Man shakes his head in disbelief.  He realizes that he is not in control like he thought he was.  He comes to understand that there are forces outside of himself that can turn his world upside down.  Frail, fragile, vulnerable, weak, and finite now describe the human being.  He is longer a god.  He is just an earthen vessel that can be easily broken into pieces. 

            Third, when evil comes man is forced to contemplate the distinction between good and evil.  To do this, there must be some type of standard to be considered.  That standard does not lie within mankind because each person possesses a difference of opinion about the evils of this world (i.e., Hitler’s view vs the Jews’ view of the Holocaust).  Man, therefore, is forced to consider the divine standard of God’s Word.  Most will agree that “Thou shalt not kill,” is a law that all should obey.  Dear readers, if this law is applicable, what about the rest of God’s laws?  If one is beneficial to man, could it be that all of the laws of God contain a positive benefit for mankind?  Yes, man must wrestle with morality.  That struggle involves the consideration of God’s holy Word.  Such is a good thing, especially in a secular society wherein man seeks to remove any mention of God or His holy laws from his life.

            Fourth, when evil touches our lives, we often develop a deep resolve to oppose it.  Another question that arises is:  “What can we do to keep this from happening again?”  Man searches for answers that will reduce the possibility of evil rising again.  If humanity ever comes upon the correct answer to this question, they will radically alter our nation for good.  Gun control, better help for those with mental problems, and a better trained staff are only bandaids upon a massive wound.  What really needs to be changed are the hearts of both men and women.  This can only be done positively and effectively through obedience to the gospel of Christ (See I Cor. 6:9-11).

            Dear readers, what evil does to people is never pretty.  We do not wish it upon anyone.  Some of the effects of evil, however, can be positive.  Man turns toward God.  Man admits he is vulnerable.  Man must contemplate a divine standard of right and wrong.  And, man begins to seek a way to keep evil from happening again.  With these thoughts in our mind, perhaps now we can give thanks.  Paul wrote:  “In every thing give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18).