This week I read one of the most chilling quotes I have ever come across. It went straight to my heart, and I instantly felt a wave of panic come over me, like it was referring to my own little boys, or the parents of the little girls I know. It was the sort of quote that sends me to my knees in prayer, the sort of thing that can only allow for two responses, first disgust, and second the desperate return to God.
What’s the quote?
“If you knew the state your daughters are in today, it might lead some of you…to die from grief,” Abubakar Shekau sneers, addressing the parents of the girls and young women kidnapped from a remote boarding school more than six months ago. (Times Colonist, Nov. 1).
It makes my skin crawl.
How in the world am I going to pray for Abubakar? How in the world am I going to pray for the other men involved, the ones who have forced young Christian girls into being Muslim wives?
I know I am not to judge. I also know there is right and there is wrong. I know God is at work in the world and that the ultimate battle is won thanks to the Hound of Heaven. I also know that there is profound evil in the hearts of some. Uncontrolled, unmitigated, pure evil is in the news and in the world.
They say if a butterfly flaps its wings a hurricane might come, I know it’s an exaggeration, but what effect will such news have on the place I live? How will the parents treat their children here this week? How will the girls feel when they go to school, or the mothers as they drop them off? How am I, how are we, to respond to what is happening in other places (I know plenty of evil happens here but for this week let’s talk about Nigeria) when the news is so fantastically vile?
I think the only way for me to see it is to accept that the men involved are broken, and as they cruelly treat these girls they are on some level seeking to bring the girls down to their own level of brokenness. To be so unwound as to be involved in the debauchery and meanness of the kidnapping of the 200 girls is to have your string totally unraveled and knotted up. Somehow the knots have to be loosened.
I can’t do it. Despite my years in scouts I’ve never been that good at knots.
I like to think if I met them I would be too angry to deal with them, too angry to pray for them. But the truth is that I would probably be too scared to even talk. I would appear humble and submissive in the face of such unstable and violent men. Perhaps that’s part of why I minister in a semi-rural place where guns are restricted to police and hunters. The anger would also be a self-righteous stance, as though I have never done anything wrong, as though I have lived a perfect life and am free to hold such total judgment on another person. I am not, and I have never been, perfect.
So, I turn to the only one who ever was perfect, Jesus. I have no choice for my own sanity but to turn to Jesus in prayer, trusting he can make something even of this. Part of why I do this is my own ego, I hate that in the face of such things I am impotent. The other part is that I believe my anger and frustration are natural responses to the crookedness of this world and I believe reconciliation, healing, and straightening can only come from one source, the man who said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). O, that I would be still and know that he is God. For he is great and he is good and he is powerful.