Like most, I received the news of yesterday’s attacks in Boston with a familiar sickness. While this sort of mass murder should always grieve us, it is undeniable that that which hits closest to home hits hardest. The familiarity I felt was to that day many Septembers ago when I woke up to shaky video clips of planes crashing into buildings and people who could be my friends and relatives running for their lives in a city not so different from my own. Now we have footage of a fireball going off in an unsuspecting crowd, of people gathered for a day of fun and sport instead fleeing for safety, and of heart rending violence played out on a Boston sidewalk.
This is heavy on my heart today, and so as I think through a Biblical response I wanted to share what I feel is an appropriate way for the Christian to respond to these horrific events. Specifically, a Biblical response to the Boston bombings includes…
1. Appropriate Sorrow
When Jesus saw human suffering he was moved with compassion (Mark 1:41 et al). The Creator is intimately concerned with the pains, fears, and sorrows of His creatures. Following His example, our hearts should ache for those who have lost loved ones, for those who are even now waking up in hospitals- facing a life forever changed by the violence that erupted yesterday, and for a nation once again dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Christians ought to respond to tragedy with open hearts ready to grieve with those who grieve (Romans 12:15) and with open hands ready to relieve suffering as we are able (Galatians 6:10). We ought to be driven in prayer to cry out for those in pain, and to seek the Lord’s mercy and comfort for them in their day of sorrow.
2. Righteous Anger
We do not worship the impersonal and passive idol of Deism. Our God hates injustice. He is the advocate of the widow and the orphan. He hates what happened in Boston with a righteous fury, and it is not wrong that we feel anger about it as well. We should be angry that men spit in the face of God, breaking his sixth commandment and treating as worthless that which God has called “very good” and “made in His image” (Genesis 1:27, 31)
3. Chastened Patience
It is easy for righteous anger to slip into imprudent haste and unwarranted conclusions. We don’t yet know who committed yesterday’s crime, and the history of “first reports often overturned” should make us patient about speculation until more information is known (Proverbs 18:17).
4. Transcendent Hope
It is wrong for Christians to be nonplussed by tragedy under the false guise of being “spiritually minded” or a false understanding of “trusting God’s sovereignty.” However, it is also wrong for us to “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). The promise of the gospel gives us a confidence that can transcend even the darkest hour, even when that “dark hour” bombards us through rebroadcast on the 24/7 news cycle. We do not rest our hopes in the hands of men, nor are they dashed by men’s wicked deeds; rather we rest them in the hands of God who is governing and guiding this world toward a great deliverance and future glory (Romans 8:18-25).
5. Eager Longing
Every time a bomb or a bullet rips through a human being it leaves more than a trail of medical trauma and human suffering. It leaves behind the exit wounds of a fallen world crying out for deliverance. May God help us to have our hands quick to relieve the suffering of the present hour even as our hearts long for the age to come- the age of no more tears, no more sadness, no more death.
May we all say “Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
One Last Thought
As I ready this post for publication, one last thought does come to mind. Yesterday people gathered in Boston to participate in a sport that celebrates the joy of running- the undeniable lift that a human being experiences when putting his God-formed body to use in a display of God’s brilliant design and the admirable discipline of human training. Yet wicked men instead made them run in panic and fear. This inversion of God’s good creation is at its root Satanic- it is open service to the one who entered the Garden with a message designed to flip God’s good creation on its head. But Satan doesn’t win, and the goals of yesterday’s attack are ultimately futile (Genesis 3:15). We worship and serve the Christ who died to overturn death, who suffered to erase suffering, who is in the business of fixing broken things.
Does he not use this very picture to show us what he is doing? “…they shall run and not be weary…” (Isaiah 40:31). And so I say again: Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus.
(By: Nicolas Alford)