By Rick Hamlin
"Deliver Us from Evil"
“Deliver us from evil.” There it is in the Lord’s Prayer, the central prayer of my faith. The idea that there is evil in the world is one I mentally skirt away from, and yet no person of faith can deny that evil exists. How do you pray when you’ve brushed against it? How do you make sure evil and fear don’t overcome you?
A dreadful story appeared in the news several weeks ago. A man living on the margins of life incinerated a woman in the elevator of her apartment building. He doused her with gasoline, lit it on fire and she burned to death. It’s one of those horrid bits of news the tabloids thrive on. You read it, shudder, pray that justice will be served and hope you can forget it. Deliver us from evil indeed.
A colleague of mine here at Guideposts, Sharon Azar, did more. She knew the woman, knew the assailant, lives in the same Brooklyn neighborhood. “I was friendly with them both,” she said. I could say a prayer of gratitude that Sharon was not injured. Could I ask for some blessing, though? What would it be?
Sharon works tirelessly finding homes for rescued animals, and the woman left behind a steel-gray Norwegian forest cat christened BuBu. The family asked Sharon to take her in and find her a new home. At work, at our Monday morning gathering for prayer, Sharon asked us to pray for the woman’s family and the cat, who was so alarmed she didn’t leave the bathroom.
Ah, I thought, this is how to ask God to deliver us from evil. When evil has reared up in your community, when people you know have been harmed, when a troubled man turns into a killer, you look for a blessing. Loving an animal is a way of reclaiming good from a tragic nightmare. (Did I tell you what a loving soul Sharon is?)
BuBu was quickly adopted. You can see why from the enchanting photo. She’s pretty cute. But this is not just a story of another pet finding a home. It’s about how to live prayerfully.
“Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good,” Paul wrote. “Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”