The words were posted high above the church on the sign by the road, it was the title of many newspaper articles, and the slogan on their t shirts last week at the Sutherland Springs Old Town Days. In the aftermath of the facts; all the loss, all the pain, all the challenges, all the family members who don't show up for church each Sunday, how is it that evil did not win? News reports are filled with the graphic evil that occurred on Nov 5th, 2017. Some Facebook posts are transparently raw about the pain of loss after that day, others are sadly silent in their grief and anger about things that can never be undone. How did evil not win?
There is a phrase in The Lord's Prayer that millions have prayed for thousands of years, "deliver us from evil," or, "deliver us from the evil one," either one is true. Deliver us, rescue us; this is not a suggestion or a request, it is an imperative command. "HELP!" No please or thank you, just the plea, deliver us! "Deliver" assumes that the danger, the evil, the need is already present. There is no need to deliver from a hypothetical or future situation. Deliver us from evil, a very real evil, and the evil one.
That dread-filled day has passed, and the evident danger is also in the past, but what of the evil, has it gone? Or is it continually knocking at the door of the survivors, the responders, the community, the world that reads and reels from the perpetual bad news? The apparent evil has passed but the temptation to let it remain is still here, still daily apparent.
Looking back at Jesus' prayer the phrase that precedes "deliver us from evil," is, "lead us not into temptation." Lead us not! Don't let us go there! The evil that is in front of us every day is the one from which we need deliverance. Evil may have burst through the church door and delivered destruction but that evil is gone. The evil that remains is the temptation, by the evil one, to destroy everyday with evil. The temptation to let our peace be destroyed by anxiety, the temptation to let our love disappear into fear, to let doubt eat away at our faith. "Lord, lead us away from temptation."
When the news tried to distort the grief of the remaining church members, they said "NO," evil did not win. When the conspiracy theorists stood at the edge of the church property taunting the pastor to engage, he said "NO," evil did not win, when depression threatened to drown survivors, they said "NO," and they supported each other, got counseling, and prayed for each other. "Lord, keep us from that temptation, and deliver us from that evil." That is why EVIL DID NOT WIN!
- the evil of hate did not win.
- the evil of unforgiveness did not win.
- the evil of self-pity did not win.
- the evil of hopelessness did not win.
- the evil of fear did not win.
- the evil of defeat did not win.
- the evil of offense did not win.
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory;
because of your love and faithfulness." (Psalms 115:1, NIV)