As I sat on the couch, mere inches from the one who had just perpetrated abuse upon my child, murderous rage filled me to the point my hands were shaking. I was aware of the loaded 9mm on the headboard in the next room, though wisely, I made no move to retrieve it.
I continued sitting there, unable to move, to think, to make any rational plan but I could not shut off my emotions. Hatred washed over me, wave upon wave. I wanted him dead.
The words above were not lifted from a novel or movie. The words above are mine. They describe a painful event in my life and the life of my only child, who was less than two years old at the time.
And in that terrible moment, God spoke something to me I will never forget. As rage turned to grief, leaving me physically weak, comfort came again with that still, small voice that said:
“I had to watch them beat my Son too.”
I was stunned as the reality of those words hit me. I had never thought about the sufferings of Jesus in that way before…
The tenderness with which God spoke told me, in the deepest part of my being, just how totally and completely He understood what I and my daughter were going through – and I knew we were not alone.
I don’t remember how I got to the kitchen before the tears came. I only remember being at the sink with the water running to mask the sound. It simply was not safe to cry in front of my husband.
I believe the survival instinct and a parent’s instinct to protect their child are two of the most powerful forces on earth that will ever spring from the human will.
When a parent’s desire to protect and defend is in some way blocked or denied, the pain is almost unbearable. I cannot begin to imagine the torment being experienced by Dzhokhar’s parents day after day…
Recently, I saw a documentary on what prisoners endure each time they have to leave their cell for any reason. They call it “extraction.” You and I would call it psychological torture. God calls it sin. All of us are correct. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand its purpose.
First, it perpetuates the myth that all prisoners are extremely dangerous.
Maybe in a darkened alley with a loaded gun, to someone walking home from the bus, they were. Maybe when they were high on drugs and holding a knife, alone with a pregnant wife half their size, they were. Maybe with five of their fellow gang members, to the unsuspecting rookie cop leaving the convenience store at the end of his shift, they were. Maybe, before they were horribly and permanently injured by police brutality, they were.
But alone, in a tiny, barren cell where no contraband can possibly exist due to the sterility and hyper-vigilance of the Super Max, outnumbered by guards six to one, standing unarmed, with guns pointed at their heads … not so much.
Second, if the one being extracted cannot manage, over time, to hold onto their humanity and sense of self in the face of such cruel and unnecessary indignity, the repeated experience of extraction can foster a murderous rage.
And then the guards might have something to worry and be wary about. Then the guards might have real justification for the way they treat prisoners who are at their mercy. Then the guards might be able to go home and sleep peacefully at night, having finally convinced themselves that they are not the real monsters.
When emotions are running high, when you are paralyzed by fear and your brain slows down to a crawl, its hard to pray and even harder to remember long passages from the Bible.
For most of us, it’s hard to do that when everything is hunky dory. For that reason, my favorite verses of Scripture are very short. One that I find myself going to again and again in times of crisis is just two words.
Those two words from Jeremiah 15 are enough to impact me every time I remember them, no matter how deep my pain or strong my emotions. When I tell you why this is so, you just might find yourself reaching for them the next time you are between a rock and hard place.
But now, picture this: You need someone else to do something for you that you cannot do for yourself. So you ask; then you wait.
Time passes and your request has yet to be acted on. You return to the person you asked for help and remind them of your request. Invariably you will hear the following two-word response: “I know.”
When man says “I know” it does not mean the same as when God says it.
When someone reminds us we still need to do something we promised to do and we respond to that reminder with the words “I know” we are usually 1) expressing annoyance at the reminder and/or 2) buying time until we have to drop what we are doing and fulfill the request. We are not implying we will jump up at that very moment and do as we promised. Anyone who has been a teenager or raised one knows how true that statement is – so that should be all of us. And sadly, it is not a habit we outgrow.
Over the years, I have learned that who God is, what He says and what He does are interchangeable. His character governs his actions. His word stands.
The Bible says God is not a man that He should lie. He never says one thing and does another, though the devil will try to make you think that, based on how screwed up situations often get before they get better.
God can be trusted! You won’t learn that truth firsthand unless you find yourself in a situation where you need to trust Him because you can’t fix the problem yourself and neither can anybody else.
The Bible says God is a very present help in time of trouble. You can bet that every time the guards come to extract Dzhokhar from his cell, God is there. He protected Dzhokhar on the streets of Watertown, in the boat and on the ground beside that boat. He’s not going to suddenly stop now. Though He is allowing Dzhokhar to suffer, and suffer intensely, I know there is a time limit and a boundary beyond which this evil will not go.
God knows and because He knows, He is already at work doing something about righting the wrong for Dzhokhar. When His work on Dzhokhar’s behalf is complete, we will see what He has been up to.