Sunday, August 30, 2009
Monsters. There are so many in this world that they influence every human life. This week I heard on the news the case of a monster that had been captured and is now awaiting trial. He had snatched away an eleven year old girl as she walked to school and taken her home where he then locked her away for 18 years, sexually abused her and made her pregnant twice, the first time when she was 14. She had children, and they became his captives too. This monster did immense harm and the news made me sick, for I cannot help but imagine the darkness and unanswered cries for help. And this leads me to look to God. I remember my own daughter Naomi during the last two years of her life was fighting a wicked, relentless monster, called cancer. This beast gave her no rest while it tortured her. It deformed her body, isolated her, took away her youth, inflicted severe and continual pain, taunted her and made her feel powerless and eventually locked her in small room with death as her partner. Many times, while I watched helplessly as my valiant daughter struggled, I prayed and when the situation got worse not better, then asked, “How can a loving God allow this?” (See my book, A Heart Traced in Sand) I knew there was an answer but also knew that many people do not believe in God because He created a world where monsters are so powerful and do so much harm . . . even appearing to transcend the powers of good. And sometimes it appears that God creates humans that are afflicted by monsters from birth! Humans are born with two heads and one body, or so retarded that they are never able to hold a conversation their entire lives.
Monsters exist everywhere in many forms. Think of the millions, maybe billions of people whose lives have been marginalized and made hellish by corruption and greed on the part of monster men and women who wage war and command through intimidation and violence. Monsters can appear as hunger, or as the clouds that infiltrate human life and bring Alzheimer’s and a host of other infirmities that drain our happiness.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about an experience I had on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A young man approached me and immediately I knew he was in the grip of a monster. His face was horribly deformed so that it was painful and frightening to look at him. He was begging. I gave him money and asked to take his picture. I wanted him to leave the harsh sunlight and to stand in the shade of a nearby building. Just then a woman rushed from a shop and scolded him for standing close to her place of business. Her chastising froze the youth so that he could not move. So here we have it; a story of human interest that is very telling psychologically. I learned from a friend that this young man had acid thrown on his face during a gang fight. From that moment forward his life turned into a living hell. He cannot close his mouth or hide his teeth. He cannot have a satisfying public life because he is shunned and made to be an outcast. He has longings for intimacy but will never marry or be sought by the opposite sex. He is forced into a life of homelessness and wanders the streets begging for mercy and hoping people will feel sorry for a poor fellow that was beset by a monster and forever made ugly. Meanwhile, the woman that scolded him was afraid. She did not stop to think of him as a fellow human, but only saw a monster. She thought, “this monster will drive people away from my store and my business will suffer.” In other words, she had no connection to the young man except repulsion and in this, she herself became monstrous. The true monster was not the young man’s disfigurement, but the woman’s reaction. Really, what is monstrous is psychological and arises from fear, loathing, greed, anger, pride and a host of other empty emotional disconnects.
Moreover, the monster in the case of the kidnapped girl who is now a young woman retarded by years of imprisonment and torture along with her two children forced upon her by her rapist tormentor, is a bleak and ugly creature that takes its place among the many other monsters that roam our earth.
This leads me to believe that monsters exist only to test the quality of human spirit, like heat is necessary to test for the pureness of gold. The light cannot be known without darkness, and neither can humans be known without monsters, however gruesome and perplexing that can be.