March 20th Lenten Devotional

Love Amidst Evil

Michael D. Kirby

Psalm 86:14-15

Twenty-five years ago today, Japan was shaken to its core by the Sarin gas attacks on five commuter trains that left 12 dead and over 5000 people sick and injured. The doomsday cult responsible for the attack brought forward a horrific new chapter in global terrorism—people who kill just to kill, with no specific agenda other than death.

We don’t seem to be as shocked by that kind of evil anymore, but that hasn’t made it any easier to reconcile the concept of the loving God depicted in the closing verses of today’s passage with such wanton evil. “How could a benevolent God allow such thing to happen?” we and critics of religion ask, or we declare “God is not good” as we embrace neo-atheism.

The fact that these two passages exist side by side in today’s text is proof that we’ve been asking ourselves and God this kind of question for millennia.

From our deepest Judeo-Christian roots, our journey of faith has been lived in the midst of this conflict, just as we live this week between the Wicked Tenant parable with inexplicable evil and the Great Commandment centered in love. Jesus does not ask us to surrender the reality of evil any more than he anticipates we will encounter it without the steadying force of God’s gracing love to help us survive, and even thrive, our encounter with evil.

Still, we live with the confidence that the moments of kindness, hope, and justice that we enact inspired by that love—moments that rehearse the promise of just a few weeks hence—proclaim to all that God is here transforming even the worst we have to offer with a grace that defeats even death. Thanks be to God.

Love incarnate, we face too much evil every day, too much for us anyway. Praise to you for standing with us, drawing us ever closer to your justice-seeking way of love. Hold us, carry us, buoy us, empower us, to draw on your gracious love and live it in our every encounter. Amen.

Michael Kirby is the Senior Pastor at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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