Last summer, two teenage girls (14 and 16) were raped, killed, and strung from a mango tree in their Indian village.
Yesterday, my nine-year-old daughter went with me to visit a one-day-old baby, an only daughter, swaddled in the protective arms of her father.
In the middle of the night, the young girl-cousins had walked together to a nearby orchard to relieve themselves, and never returned.
“Do you think I’ll be able to hold the baby, mom?” my only daughter asked me on the way.
On finding their dead daughters – their only daughters – the next morning, the fathers refused to take their girls down from the tree. They left them until an investigation was promised by the local police. They didn’t want their daughters’ deaths to be ignored.
Why would anyone want to bring a girl-child into the dark story of this world?
I can’t bear to look at the picture of the daughters hanging from the mango tree. The NY Times considered the ethics of posting the photograph, concluding that the visceral image would speak more than a thousand words ever could. The picture – in their opinion – would be a voice for those with none.
Is this our job, too? Are we to help give a voice to the oppressed? Or is there more?
There will come a day when Evil, and all who love it, will be corralled into a horrific place, never to lay a finger on creation again. Our beautiful world will be forever free from bondage and abuse. We will no longer groan under the oppressive weight of all that is wrong.
But what do we do now?
The oppression of women, the poor, and the earth will not go on forever. The unseen demonic forces we struggle against will be castrated – impotent – and unable to cripple or destroy God’s creation any longer. Evil will go to hell, and all that has been broken will be made new again.
Yes, but what do we do until then?
Until that day, we ready ourselves with Truth – we stand – and overcome evil with good. We remember that God himself is near us, working for us, and that he will not forsake what he has promised to save.
The world is a mess, and also so very beautiful. We contribute to her suffering, and participate in her healing. We are both the villains, heroes, and witnesses in the middle of a comic story: a drama where the wrongful death of the innocent, and the hopeful promise of new life are both true.
And so we go with God into all the places.
We make things more lovely. We bring order to chaos, and light to the dark. We raise daughters. We believe God when he tells us to overcome evil with good; to consider our neighbor as much as ourselves, and to forgive them for they know not what they do.
We do all this because our eyes are set on Jesus, who did for the world what we could not do for ourselves.
The innocent (and only) son of God overcame evil, not with power, but with love.
He has shown us the way. His Spirit is with us as we go into all the world, armed with the gospel of peace.
“I want to have four babies, mommy” she said solemnly on the way home from the hospital. “Two boys, and two girls.”
Amen, only daughter.
And may they always know the love and presence of their Heavenly Father.