Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing

Last week the city of Boston, and really the entire country indirectly, experienced for the first time since 9/11 what for much of the rest of the world is a common occurrence. Terrorists plotted and carried out an attack designed to kill or maim large numbers of innocent people. They succeeded in that goal to a certain degree. There are families who will never see their loved ones again in this life. There are people whose lives will never be the same. The terrorists also intended to spread fear and panic amongst the people of Boston. Terrorists of all kinds want to disrupt “life as usual” and cause people to live in fear. The marathon bombers, in my view, failed miserably in that second goal. The people of Boston came together immediately and, amidst acts of cowardice, demonstrated self-sacrifice, heroism and an understanding of human dignity. The most striking image was that of a man with a cowboy hat who, having already lost one son to combat in Iraq and a second son to suicide as a result of depression over his brother’s death, was at the marathon when the bomb went off. He jumped two fences and, coming across a man whose legs had been blown off, picked him up and found him a wheelchair. As he wheeled the victim to safety, the rescuer, found a major artery that had been severed and literally pinched it off between his fingers, saving the man’s life. That was just one example among dozens or maybe hundreds of other stories. Other cities and countries showed their support. The crowd at a Bruins hockey game sang the national anthem with a passion that would not have happened without this tragedy. (Yankee fans even sang “Sweet Caroline”–you know they’ve always wanted a good excuse to do that). In other words, many of the evil intentions of the terrorists were not fulfilled. In fact, their actions had the opposite effect. Evil actions always do, because evil is at its root stupid. I’m not saying that those who carry out evil are sub-intelligent. I’m saying that evil is rooted in deception, and evildoers become deceived by their own twisted minds. The apostle Paul tells us that in 2 Timothy 3:13 when he says that people will “go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Though it sounds like a depressing prognosis for our world, paradoxically it is in that truth that our hope amidst all of the tragedy of this past week is found. Ultimately, the Biblical principle of the image of God in man and, even more so, the Christian gospel of Christ’s sacrifice for sinful people is the basis of the heroic actions of last week. These truths tell us that, though people’s nature is corrupted by sin, there is hope of redemption. And even in a sin-distorted world, the image of God is still reflected in the people he created. No terrorist can change that.
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