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Overcoming Darkness: Where’s the Hope in Another Tragedy?

19 Jun


Ever since Cain felt enough hatred in his heart to turn on his own brother in a murderous rage, humanity has suffered at the hands of one another. We kill each other out of passion, out of hatred, out of prejudice, for revenge, in self-defense. Murder is a deep-seated human evil as old as humanity itself.

People are calling this disturbed killer who took nine lives in Charleston an animal who feels no empathy for other people. They can’t fathom how he could look into a person’s eyes one moment and in the next feel enough hatred to take away his life.

I can’t fathom it either. But this person is not an animal. Most animals kill out of self-preservation, to sustain their species. That’s not why humans kill. Human beings have an inherent darkness handed to us as soon as we enter this world. It’s called sin. It’s the result of the fall, and it affects us all in some way.

This person didn’t become an animal when he killed innocent people. He succumbed to the darkness of human sin.

We often hear when these tragedies occur something along the lines of, “He didn’t start out that way; something got him to that point.” The reality is we all start out that way. We all start out with a fallen nature. Our first instinct when we begin to develop is to disobey, to say no, to defy the rules put in place to protect us. There is nothing innocent about the root of human nature. It is deeply, permanently scarred by the curse of original sin. There is no hope for us within our own selves. In the deepest recesses of our hearts lies the capability to do evil to one another, to commit unspeakable acts of hatred to our fellow human beings. Hope can never be found in the goodness of human beings acting alone. Alone we are selfish. Alone we are greedy, lustful, prideful, spiteful. Even the best of people see these things within themselves. And there is no hope in that.

Hope is only found in grace. Hope in the wake of a senselessness tragedy is only, only found in grace. We will never find hope in an answer to “what went wrong” to make this individual succumb to the darkness. Hope also isn’t found in trying to seek justice, to make this person pay for his crimes—although of course he should be tried and locked away for the rest of his life. But vindication isn’t where we find hope. Hope is only found when we surrender to the grace of a savior who promises that one day, this will pass. One day, the evils of this world will be no more. Because he is coming to destroy sin forever.

He is coming to right every wrong, and although we will face unbearable trials and suffering in this world, he has overcome it all. And one day we will see only light where there was once darkness.

That is how we can rest in hope during a tragedy. And that’s how we can find redemption for the darkness in our own hearts—darkness that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in crimes of this scale, but which is there nonetheless. Our prejudices, anger, jealousy, bitterness, greed. The only hope for any of us is grace.

We will never eliminate evil while we are here on this earth. That doesn’t mean we don’t do our best to fight it and hedge against it; it means that we can’t rely on humanity’s ability to save itself. We are far, far too broken for that. We can’t look inwardly for saving. We can only look up.

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