I thought twice about writing this one. I’ve thought even more about posting it. Actually, I had convinced myself not to write or post it, but upon waking this morning, I just could not escape the thoughts trapped in my head yearning to be released. So, here I go….
My intention is not to hurt anyone or be offensive. My thoughts after last Monday have been “all over the place”. I want to come away from this post feeling that I’ve taken a tragic situation that the bombing at the Boston Marathon was, and turned my feelings of anger into introspection about where we are as Americans…not just Americans, but Christian Americans. A part of me feels as though I do not have the right to have an opinion. Another part of me deeply wonders if I would feel the same way if my spouse, children, mother, father, sister or friends were victims of the attack. Honestly, I do not know, and pray I will never know what it feels like to be looking at tragedies like these from the inside out.
Like most Americans, I was angry when I saw what happened. I was worried that there would be more attacks, and I felt sadness for the loss of life and liberty for so many people on that day. I heard calls for prayer for the victims, the city of Boston, and for our nation. I did not hear anyone call for prayer for the perpetrators of this act. My thoughts, (although I did not express them out loud to others at the time), were perhaps we should pray for the perpetrators as well. Why shouldn’t we pray for them?
Matthew 5:44 – But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
As the events of Friday played out on the television screen, I was shocked to hear how young both men were. The youngest brother is only 12 & 1/2 years older than my son. I do not know all of the details of how these two brothers came to the place where they chose hatred. I cannot comprehend knowingly setting a bomb by anyone and walking away. I also could not help but feel pity for them. I pity them for being lost in the mix of hatred and confusion.
They had their whole lives ahead of them. One was a young father, and the other, just barely an adult. Now, one is dead, and the other might face death through the justice system. Please hear me say this loud and clear, I definitely want justice for the victims. I definitely want a trial to be held. I definitely love our country. I find it a blessing to live in a country that is free. I still cannot escape the “what if’s” of these young men’s lives.
What if the chaos they must have felt in their hearts was replaced with the love of Christ? What if Christians in their communities and schools would have ministered to them through friendships, love, and prayer? What if they would have been embraced by Christians in a way that left them no doubt who the Lord of love is? What if….?
There has been a multitude of Facebook posts about the incident. Some have been deep prayerful desires for healing, while others have been about seeking vengeance on this young man, and any other that would cause harm to our nation. If I didn’t know better, I would wonder if we (American Christians) put our country before our Lord, our patriotism before our prayers, and our flag before our faith. Again, I think of what Scripture says.
Romans 12:19 – Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
I know it is cliché to ask it, but, “What would Jesus do?” Sometimes this question is asked rhetorically when determining whether or not to give change to the homeless man on the corner, or to turn the other cheek when facing opposition. I challenge myself to ask this question when faced with the seemingly unforgivable acts like the one committed nearly a week ago.
I know that my words may alienate some readers. I hope not. Writing my thoughts out has become my way of working through times that might cause a stumble in my faith. I challenge you, fellow writers and readers, to consider what the Lord would ask of us during this time, and any other. What is our Christian response supposed to be in times like these?
Our instinct is to seek revenge, but I pray that we would seek a deeper relationship with our Lord, and with each other – friend and foe.