A Prayer in the Face of Abuse's Evil

This world is not as it should be. Nowhere is that clearer than when we sit and listen to those who have been abused—physically, emotionally, sexually. They cannot live in the comfortable denial of others. They know the evil that lurks in the heart of man, and it has brutalized them.

In the face of this reality, I pray first that justice would come on those who perpetrate such evils. Come in Your righteous indignation, reveal deeds done in secret, and repay on their heads the agony they have inflicted in the pursuit of pleasure or power. May justice be done in this age through the laws and courts of man. Even more, may Justice rule on earth as it does in heaven, may You take up Your scepter and crown, and may all workers of evil be swept away.

At the same time, Father, I pray for mercy—that mercy might find even them and bring them to heartbreaking repentance, but much more, that you would show mercy to all of us who have participated in a society that blames victims and shelters victimizers. When we excuse or question the possibility of evil, when we fail to believe what you say about human sin and pretend that people could not be that bad or that we could not be so easily deceived, when we prefer comfortable illusions to the sometimes-terrifying truth—Father, in those moments we participate in their sins. The handshake of complicity means there is blood on our hands as well.

Most of all, though, I pray that you would comfort those who have been victims of such crimes. The millions who silently move through the world with secret dread, hiding their pain behind masks society finds acceptable—Father, mend their broken hearts. Sustain them in their courageous daily struggle. Teach them that they are creatures with divinely-given dignity and agency and beauty and strength and worth. Work resurrection in the midst of the death visited upon them. Remind them that You are a God of the lowly and rejected, that Your anger burns at what has been done to them, and that You will at the end arise and vindicate their cause.

Make us as Your church diligent in siding with Christ, recognizing that it is the powerless and afflicted who are Jesus’s people and so should be ours as well. Forgive us for our failures. Forgive us for when we have protected institutions rather than individuals, for when we have loved comfort rather than truth, and for the fools so many of us have been. Pardon even us by the blood of the cross and teach us to walk in the paths of justice and light.

This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Advocate, the coming Judge of Heaven and Earth.