Reading these passages about the wicked makes me uncomfortable. I want to believe my world is filled with people who are good. I want to say to them, “Oh, that’s not so bad, I’ve done worse.” (Believe me, I could say that with all honesty.) Working with people, however, who struggle with addiction has an inherent aspect to it – seeing the face of evil. One day you are encouraging and congratulating this person who has obtained abstinence from using heroin or crack cocaine. Peace has returned to their souls, families are embracing them again, material blessings are increasing, and sanity has been restored. The gratitude on their faces is genuine and their hearts flutter with expectation of a new life. Then, so unexpectedly (even though I’ve seen this hundreds of times), this face disappears. The one who replaces it has hollowed eyes, tightly drawn lips over clenched jaws, blank or pinched expressions staring or glaring at me. The black hole of slowly, rotting teeth spew words – caustic, guarded, and resentful. At least this one has come back. Some do not return; some die in the streets.
I struggle with evil each time the Destroyer’s discarded, ravaged bodies drag themselves or are deposited to my office door. Don’t get me wrong; I am not suggesting that the face of evil is that person who heroically or desperately seeks treatment. But evil is on that face and in that soul doing its death dance.
I think this is why I can relate to Proverbs 24:17, which says, “ Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him.” In addiction, this is called ‘hitting bottom.’
The challenge is to maintain a balance of calling evil what it is without calling the person evil. How natural to call a person with addiction evil, immoral, weak, a drunk, an addict. It is tempting (dual meaning intended) to react with abhorrence, rejection, blaming, shaming, and punishment because the face of evil does that to you. Instead, I have to call forth good, (my take on exorcism). To do so, I must believe in God’s mercy. I must remember that the sacrificial fire of acceptance burned hottest on the wood of Calvary, first for my sins. Remember Aaron who had to sacrifice a calf for his own sins before blessing the people. I need never forget that I, too, wear this mask and have need of someone else that recognizes it and will help me remove it. We who know Christ are responsible for the message of mercy, hope, and faith to the hostages beneath the evil masks. At least that is what I think God has purposed me to do.