Deliver Us from Evil
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” -Psalm 82:3-4
Several months ago an evil man very nearly killed a helpless baby. During his long stay in the hospital, the baby’s little body revealed serious past injuries, showing that his short life was likely filled with pain and fear. Someone (in their infinite wisdom) hung a picture of this man right there on the wall in Baby J’s hospital room. That first day, I snuggled Baby J in my arms, careful not to touch his wounds; I looked at that picture on the wall, and I felt that I had come face to face with evil.
We brought J home on a Wednesday. It wasn’t until the following Monday that I was able to read through his hospital discharge papers. When I did I wanted to pass out, to scream, to shake, to vomit, but I simply wept. For two days, I wept. How could anyone do these things to another human being, let alone a small baby? The reality of human brokenness, evil prevailing where love should have been.
“Deliver us from Evil,” I’ve always prayed, faithfully reciting the words Christ taught. I prayed them more as, “Please don’t let bad things happen.” But, it struck me during worship a few weeks later that bad things happen quite often, apart from evil. You swerve to miss a deer and run your car into a tree, bad –but not evil. Evil is something different, something spiritual, and sinister and violent, something we desperately need God’s help to escape.
When our foster baby Jenn left four months ago, my prayers became hollow and wooden. I said the words, I read the Word. I had lost the sense of the Presence. Then God brought us Baby J, who so urgently needed us, and my prayers grew fervent again, “Lord, deliver Baby J from evil, I beg you! Protect him from those who want to harm him.”
Somewhere along the line while praying, “Deliver us from evil,” over Baby J I realized that the abuser wasn’t the only face of evil in this situation. Evil is in the person who, sometime in the past, abused the child who would grow up to become the abuser. Evil is in the mother who defends the abuser. Evil is in the system that tries to put the baby back with them. And, I was startled to find that evil had taken up residence in my heart when I looked at the baby’s scars and vehemently wished for the abuser to spend eternity burning in the deepest pit of hell. Evil taking on the form of hatred. Lord, deliver me from evil, cleanse me from evil.
I’ll be honest, the first time I prayed for Baby J.’s abuser, I didn’t mean it. I just voiced the words. God knew that. But, he also knew that it was the best I could do at the time. I am relieved that it has gotten easier. God has softened my heart and, miraculously, removed the hatred. Yes, this man hurt an innocent baby. I still want him to pay for what he did, and I don’t want him to hurt anyone else. But, now, as I once wished for eternal damnation, I long for his salvation, because, as incomprehensible as it is to me, God loves this man just as much as he loves Baby J. God desires his salvation the same way that he desires Baby J’s.
To become more like Christ, I need to love more like Christ, who prayed forgiveness on his murderers even as he hung on the cross. So, I pray for the abuser and I pray for the abused. May they both find comfort and salvation in the arms of their Savior.