I barely noticed the line of cars to my right as I swept by, flashers blinking rhythmically, speedometer reading 90 miles an hour. Yes, I was speeding. No, I did not care. How many times had I done this? Peering into the black night. Wishing the miles to go faster. The pounding question.” Will Jed die today? Will I get there in time to say goodbye?” Evil does not play nice. It will squeeze the soul with fear, it will shriek its mocking questions, and it will kill a little boy. Of all the things to hit my mind at such a time, God sent this phrase to my heart from Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil”. It was almost absurd. I wanted to crash through the line of traffic when we screeched to a dead stop on the interstate, I wanted to scream at everyone to get out of my way. Why this phrase? Why now? Of course I was afraid! But there we sat, as each precious second ticked by, and there the phrase would not go away until it did its work. Of course God saw the traffic jam, of course He felt our fear, of course He was watching the desperate hands working at the hospital, of course He knew this day would be this way. Of course! And that is why He sent those words, in the wild storm of the final fight for Jed’s life. As the car slowly rolled forward and the traffic cleared, I knew beyond all doubt that no matter what scene awaited us ahead, life would win the day….because evil is not God, and God is not evil.
The black metal bench is cold and hard. The day is crystal clear with tingling fall air. Only the birds are lively, sending diamond sprays of dew from the tree branches with their each hop and flutter. My shadow, stretches as my silent companion over the three feet by two feet square of freshly turned clay. Here I sit, thirty one years old, at the grave of my two year old little boy. How can this possibly even be real? It seems as if I am reading a book, as if I should be able to lay it down, and return to real life…where two year olds don’t really die, and where tragedy only touches other people. Today I am “the other” people, and there is no going back. Across the way, an older lady is standing, gazing at a large grey stone, she is “the other” people too. Beside my sitting spot, I can see the markers of an eighteen year old, an eighty year old, and a twelve year old. This place is full of the echoes of “other” people. I am not really anything that unusual, I have simply joined the ranks of those who have loved someone, and lost them. We are the ranks of the broken, we are all of humanity.
It is this awful brokenness that split our Savior’s heart. It drew Him to earth, to live, to die, and to crush the gripping vice of death. Every lash on a his back, every pound of the nail, every jeer and taunt, every soul ripping moment, was for the soul’s peace of every trembling hand that has ever rested on these long rows of stones that stretch from the earth’s first death until now, for every tear that has ever fallen in this place or any other, and for every life dashed by the unbeatable hand of death. It is a His strong eye that looks death in the face, and sets the iron law: death may steal the body, but it may not rob the soul. Jesus did not die to give the body life. He died to give the soul life.
It is evil that broke the world, and it is God that broke evil. God has set the bounds as certainly as the tides of the ocean, and there evil must stop. Evil cannot have my soul. It may sicken my body, it may kill my loved one, it may tempt me, it may take my things, it may fight to ruin my family, it may be the cause of hard days, bitter failure, and indescribable pain, but it cannot take my soul. Which requires more power? For God to erase evil? Or for God to redeem it? Here is the power that keeps my soul; power to let evil exist, to let me exist…power to buy the death, and shape its cruel shards into life. This is how the Almighty confounds the Devil’s curse! This is how the Redeemer buys the broken, and crafts a masterpiece.
“I will fear no evil.” Do you hear the blasting ring of it? Are you struck by the hard steel of its certainty? When my heart is shattered and fearing, when it is choked with sorrow, when it is tired and overwhelmed, when it is fretful and angry, when it is all the things that human hearts are, it is this thunderous phrase, pealing through the ages, that sends the grasping, strangling thoughts scurrying to hide. What temporary situation can dare to threaten this eternal trust! Here is all the power of right going eye to eye with evil, here is evil cringing from the scorn. Strip evil of its power to suffocate the soul, and it will shrink and shrivel. Its teeth fall out, and its claws turn soft. Evil is not God, and God is not evil.
Is there evil creeping up the way? Let it have its tiny moment, there is more to us than this! Do not fear the evil day, it is skin deep and cannot touch the soul. “He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him”. I am safe in the care of the God who delights in “spreading a table for me in the presence of mine enemy”. Let me rest in Him. He is not frantic over evil, why should I be? There is not a move that Satan can make that God cannot checkmate him. Let the awful, bitter thing happen, recoil if you must, but do not fear it. God is not bound by it. The Spirit is not soured by it. Jesus has already won over it. Be still. Know that He is God. It is not some act of mine that will show His hand, but the blessing of the bitter day and the hungry soul. “I will fear no evil.” This confidence is mine in all ways, for all things, in all days!
Psalms 23:4-5 “…I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…”