Yesterday morning I was on my way to swim when I heard the news about Charleston. My chest hurt for Charleston, my home away from home, beautiful and gracious historic city. The names of the victims include familiar old Charleston names...Pinckney, Middleton, Coleman, Simmons. Tragedy happens everywhere, but this tragedy hit home for me. My father and stepmother barely slept on Wednesday night once they heard the news; they were keeping vigil at home along with so many other Charlestonians.
I swam laps under a blue sky streaked with white clouds. The verse that came into my mind was one my son and I had recently discussed, John 16:33:
I told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
I had told Finn that Jesus knew our lives would be hard, and He chose to affirm that and also to tell us that we have hope in Him. We can trust Him because He was not selling a bill of goods; he wasn't convincing us that following Him would be easy. He was honest.
The evil hung onto me, though. The racism. The fact that the murderer was welcomed into and sat in the Bible study for almost an hour, listening to the attendees discuss the Bible, share their thoughts, possibly pray--he heard them share their humanity--and yet he still chose to massacre them is chilling. The darkness hunched over me.
This morning the verse that would not leave my mind was Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Then I read about the litanies of forgiveness the victims' families are offering. That is overcoming evil with good. That is faith in action. That is evidence of hope.
Jesus stated that He has overcome the world, assured us that we can overcome evil with good, and the victims' families are showing the fruit of their beliefs through their affirmation of forgiveness. I pray for the victims, for their families, for the congregation of beautiful Emanuel AME Church, and for the community of Charleston at large. Even so, come Lord Jesus.