About 3 hours ago, during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing 2 people and injuring dozens of others. There are reports of many amputations. The video footage and eyewitness testimony is gut-wrenching. Images of ambulances lined up delivering injured victims to the local hospital. Reporters are calling it “a deliberate attack on one of the nation’s most celebrated sporting events.” It’s a shocking and horrible event.
How do we respond to such an event?
The apostle Paul urges us: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). Our first response to these events is heartfelt compassion for those who are mourning and hurting. We may have (some) theological answers, but that in no way trumps the call to compassion and love for those who hurt. I’m always impacted when I think of Jesus when his friend Lazarus died. When he meets Lazarus’ sister Mary, it says “when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (Jn 11.33). He then wept and was moved again when he came to the actual tomb. Even though Jesus knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, even though he knew the happy ending was right around the corner, he still was deeply impacted by the hurt of his friends and he wept with those who wept.
We commit to praying for those who are injured. Some are in surgery as we speak. Some have lost limbs and have had their lives changed forever. Even if unhurt, thousands of eyewitnesses have been rocked by experiencing this shocking event. Pray for the emergency and medical workers. Pray for police as they work to protect the public from further attack. Pray as they seek justice and find those responsible. Pray also for the churches in Boston, that they will effectively minister the gospel to their city at this time of need. Pray that the broken-hearted will find hope and healing in Jesus.
Be Reminded of our Brokenness
We live in a beautiful but broken world, a world where great evil is brought upon the innocent. Whether it’s a school shooting, the Gosnell trial, or this evil act, we are reminded that this world is broken and corrupted by evil. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. The word sin has all but fallen out of use outside the church, and in many cases even inside the church. The word evil is used for only the most extreme of situations. So while our culture struggles with vocabulary to describe these events, we are reminded of the sinful, broken and evil condition of our world. It is beautiful, but broken.
Repent of Our Own Sin
In Luke 13, Jesus responded to two tragic events in his day, one an act of murder, the other a collapsing tower. His response was, “do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). It seems that people were thinking that these tragic deaths were a result of God’s judgment; that they deserved to die this way. That we who survived got what we deserved (life) and they that died got what they deserved (death). The crowd expects Jesus to affirm this. But he doesn’t. Jesus corrects this by saying that those who died were no worse than others. We all stand guilty of sin and are in need of repentance. If we are spared from tragedy and given another day of life it is not because we earned another day, but because of grace. Jesus responds to the tragic death of some by telling those living that they too deserve to die. When I hear of the tragic death of others I quickly am reminded that because of my own sin, that should have been me. Steve Kroeker should have died today. It is only grace that will see me through to sunset. This tragic and horrible event in Boston needs to drive us to repent of our own sin and cherish God’s grace to each of us.
Come, Lord Jesus
When we encounter great evil, we remember that though this world is broken, it has not been abandoned by God. We don’t place hope in education and progress and culture and human spirit to rise us above the evil of our age. We don’t place hope in politicians or policies or armies to protect us. We look to our coming King. What we need is the return of the King. Jesus, the rightful ruler and king of this earth will return and establish his kingdom, eradicating sin and evil, defeating death, healing the hurting and restoring all that was broken by sin and death. The problem is sin and the answer is Jesus. The ache in our heart as we watch images of this Boston tragedy leads to a cry of longing, “Come, Lord Jesus.”