Where’s God when children are murdered?
This article is based on the Rohingya crisis. The Rohingya are an ethnic minority in Myanmar who are violently persecuted. Read BBC’s article here to find out more.
We’ve got to get out of here. The thought pounds through Somira’s whole body.
She shivers behind a bush, clutching her son to her side, shielding him from the heat of the flames.
Through the leaves, their house is burning. The walls crack and moan. There is a strange smell. And the sound of wailing swells in the distance.
Somira wants to wail too. Especially when she sees the body on the ground in front of her.
But the soldiers are only a few metres away.
‘Mama, is Baba okay?’ Baashir’s whisper creeps up to her in-between his whimpers. He’s gripping her leg – his fingers bite into her skin.
She smooths his head and presses him into her stomach to keep him quiet. But she can still hear his whining.
Her eyes fix on the ‘body’ – her husband of fifteen years, lying face down in the earth, something black oozing from his head. He’s just pretending, she tries to believe. But her hands tremble and the tears collect in her chest.
The soldiers’ laughter grows louder.
‘Come on,’ she tugs at her son’s sleeve. ‘We’ve got to go.’ But he only grips harder - his fingers slicing crescent-moons into her thigh.
Perhaps the soldiers have forgotten about them. She looks at the darkness behind them and longs for it to kindly pull them in. Maybe it will, if they’re quiet.
She wishes Baashir would stop whimpering.
No. Dread rockets through her, as swift and hungry as the flames that climb her house.
One of the soldiers has left the group. He walks past their burning house. Towards their bush.
His footstep sinks through her husband’s blood. Baashir sobs and she tries to shuffle backwards but there’s nowhere to go. The darkness is sealed.
It happens so slowly. An outstretched hand through the leaves. Sneering lips. The waft of sweat. The soldier reaches in. Somira closes her eyes, every nerve in her body bracing for impact. But…nothing.
The crescent-moon bites in her leg disappear. The soldier pulls her son from the bush and drags him away.
‘Baashir!’ Somira jumps up and runs after them, but the soldier swipes and she falls to the ground.
She hears her son struggling with the man’s arms, screaming her name. An answering cry booms from within her: Stop. Stop. Stop. It flies up her throat, but –
– too late. Before she can get to her feet, the soldier throws her six-year-old son into the air towards the burning house.
She watches his body arched and suspended, and there’s a moment, a mere heartbeat, that she believes he will simply float away…but then his legs wriggle and his body plummets. And he falls into the flames.
She can’t move. She can only listen to his screams.
And then there’s dirt under her knees. The muffled drum of her own blood. The silent roar of her gaping mouth.
As she surrenders herself to the pain and disbelief, she is dimly aware of something else. Something small and fading: the prickle of moon-like impressions in her thigh.
There is evil in this world.
I knew it when I heard this Rohingya woman’s story for the first time – just one true story from the racial genocide that has been ongoing since 2015.
Who could ever throw a child into fire? And why?
When you stop and think about evil: about genocides, trafficking, abuse, neglect, the horrors of the atom bomb, torture… it’s undeniable.
Evil is everywhere: all over the world and inside the human heart.
A God who hates evil
It fills me with relief to know that our God hates evil.
He hates murder (Genesis 9:6), he hates adultery (Exodus 20:14), he hates jealousy (Exodus 20:17), he hates child sacrifice (Leviticus 20:2-5), he hates hypocrisy (Amos 5:21).
He is so holy and good that he can’t tolerate evil in any form (Habakkuk 1:13). It’s not how he designed the world.
Jesus wept at the pain it causes, at how wrong it is. (John 11:33-35)
Isn’t it good to know that there is a good God, a God who is grieved by what happened to that Rohingya woman’s child?
And isn’t it even better to know that there is a God who has done something about it?
A God who fixes evil
God looked at this evil world we corrupted, and he chose to enter in.
He came as the man Jesus and took on the full, crushing weight of evil when he was willingly stretched out on the cross and died the most agonising death.
Why? So that he could take evil with him into the grave and leave it there.
Though we still suffer its lingering effects, when Jesus walked out of the tomb he declared his victory over evil.
He promised a place where tears and tragedy will be unimaginable (Revelation 21:4), a time when the darkness in our hearts will be drained and replaced with love (Romans 5:5).
They are very real promises in the middle of a very real evil. Promises that the Rohingya mother and all victims of atrocity can put their trust in.
Promises that give hope.