People react in so many ways to being confronted with undiluted evil in this fashion. Some refuse to believe that people are callable of evil and try to blames the instruments with which they practice their evil. Some worry about attitudes:
After mass shootings, I often find myself referring back to the observations of Willard Gaylin, one of the world’s preeminent psychology professors. Gaylin writes about the dangers of “grievance collecting” in his book Hatred: The Psychological Descent into Violence:
In this light, a worldview of gratitude, counting one’s blessings, and always keeping in mind that no matter how bad our troubles, there’s someone else out there who’s dealing with worse ones, isn’t just nicer, more optimistic, or more Christian. It’s a tool for warding off self-absorption, bitterness, and madness. A relentless focus on how others have failed you and how the world at large doesn’t live up to your standards could just turn you into a monster.
I find myself turning to the Psalms. I hope you will join me.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
But it seems at moments like this that God has failed. So I find Asaph’s Psalm wherein he confesses how even thinking about God he despairs. And yet, mid-Psalm, he turns his mind to God’s good deeds and finds comfort:
My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.
When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah.
You have held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of long ago.
I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders:
Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger [withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
You have by Your power redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were in anguish;
The deeps also trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
The skies gave forth a sound;
Your arrows flashed here and there.
The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea
And Your paths in the mighty waters,
And Your footprints may not be known.
You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
So much news to take in today, but like Asaph we need to stop and force ourselves to think of God’s goodness. It feels like His love has left us, but consider your life, consider history and you will know that is not true. God is with us – even now.