People may doubt that demonic possession still happens (or ever happened), but I think the truth is that it happens much more frequently than we realize. Of course these "possessions" are not the Hollywood versions (i.e. The Exorcist). Based on outward appearance they are far less dramatic and there duration is rarely longer than a thought...an impulse...a nudge. But these possessions nonetheless have horrific consequences.
I don't throw out the idea of possession to suggest the grandmother, or any perpetrator of horrible, evil acts is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary, its the decisions and choices people make in their lives that make them vulnerable and susceptible to Satan's prompting. The Evil we do is absolutely our fault. But I mean when you try to think of how angry someone would have to get to desire to kill her own 2 1/2 year old grandchild...and well...it seems that level of contempt for life...for innocence...must have its root in the Devil himself. All the stories we hear like this...all the atrocities committed...that is what happens when the weakest part of our humanity is let loose. Evil is what happens when we are left unchecked...without restraint...given over to our selfish, prideful hearts. But we find that path with Satan's help. We open the door...he sends the thought right on in. We set the stage...he writes the scene. It's as if there is a weird, perverted form of the power we get from the Holy Spirit to do good...only this power comes from Satan...and it emblazons us to do evil.
As I thought more about the horror of this event (and others like it), I was distraught by the realization that in the battle of that moment...when there was still a choice to be made by that grandmother...Evil won. And then I thought about my own life...and the places where I struggle with my own sin. I thought about all the rationalization I do...all the internal debates I have about whether such and such is really wrong or whether it might be okay for me to do x, y, or z. I mean let's face it...sometimes I struggle with the "why" part of not being allowed to do something. Other times I struggle with my resolve to avoid some particular sin...especially when it seems as if no one really gets hurt by the sin. Then it came to me. Looking at this single tragedy amidst a sea of them...the reason for doing what I should do came to me.
No matter how difficult it might be to resist the temptation to sin...no matter how innocuous the sin might seem...I need to not sin so that Evil doesn't win. Not this time...not in this moment. Whatever pleasure I think the sin might bring, however harmless it might appear, no matter how small it might be, I can't let sin win...not here...not now...not because of me.
And while I realize the internal struggle of one person...particularly me...is of seemingly little consequence in the grand scheme of the universe...and Eternity...I find the urge to fight the good fight no less compelling. Without wanting to get too grandiose, this reminds me of a scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It's the point in the story where Frodo really starts to lose heart...where doubt truly takes hold of this hero...where the weight of his quest is pressing down upon him to the point where it seems he will break long before he will succeed. That is his friend and companion, Samwise, says something that opens his eyes (and all our eyes) to the significance of what doing what should be done...even in the face of failure.
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.That is what it all comes down to...that's what the tragic death of this beautiful little girl made me realize. That whatever my struggles, whatever my sacrifice, I can't let Evil win. I can't relinguish a single victory. Though I am small and insignificant in the grand scheme...though there are far bigger and far more important battles taking place every moment of every day...I can't let Satan win my little internal battles. I can't add to the Evil in this world...I simply can't. And though I will surely fail at times...I have to keep pulling myself back up (or let others help me up)...because win or lose...denying Evil another victory...no matter how small...THAT is worth fighting for.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.