Suzette Martinez Standring: A dark night rises – for now
The demented mind of James Holmes can never be known fully. Only unspeakable pain, sorrow and bewilderment are the certainties from the gunning down of innocents in the movie-house massacre in Aurora, Colo. After viewing “The Dark Knight Rises,” there are many tragic parallels to real life. Evil is relentless. Faith falters. Yet, like the movie, darkness is not the end of the story.
There is a scene in the movie when after so much sorrow and betrayal, a broken and bleeding Batman is lowered into the bottom of a cavernous pit. The walls are ringed with footholds, but countless escape attempts have failed. Therein lies the exquisite torture of the pit. One has hope that can never be realized.
Such a pit must feel like the place of grieving after random violence and murder. The anguished cry, “Where was God?” Yet it is the free will of individuals that looses both good and evil in the world. It’s not God in disguise pulling the trigger in such tragedies. One might say, “If I were God, I wouldn’t let this happen,” but God isn’t Batman zooming in to avert disaster at the last second. He’s done something much more miraculous. The Creator creates within each of us the strength to hoist ourselves out of the pit against impossible odds.
During the weekend of the massacre, a wedding story in The New York Times captured my attention. Eric Strauss married Bridget Kelly, the 34-year old daughter of journalist Michael Kelly. In 2002, she had been abducted, brutally raped and shot three times in the back. Yet she found the heart to hope, to heal and to find love.
Her dad wrote, “Ten years ago, bleeding and alone in the field where she had been left to die at 24, my daughter got up and stumbled to a house in the dead of night. She said later that she felt as if she had been ‘lifted up by God.’ I asked somewhat bitterly where God had been 10 minutes earlier. In the greatest testament of faith I have ever heard, she calmly replied, ‘He was there holding my hand.’ Now Eric has taken her hand in marriage, a union that is surely blessed by God.”
There are countless escapees from the abyss of hatred, bitterness, revenge and fear. They have survived genocide, debilitating disease, death of loved ones, loss of children, enslavement, paralysis or random violence. The miracle is that their hearts and souls have remained intact.
Do such people have to believe in God? He doesn’t play favorites, and in Isaiah 45:5, God said, “I will strengthen you though you do not acknowledge me.” We are each designed with the ability to endure, overcome and to go on.
The consequences of evil actions are shattering, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Amid loss and mourning, a dark night rises. Yet strength can be drawn from those who have remained in the light to find healing, against all odds.