WOW! Last week was quite a week wasn’t it? It started with terrorists setting off bombs during the Boston Marathon and ended with the capture of a suspect under a boat on dry land in a community called Watertown. I followed the story all week more than I like to admit. I sat glued to the television as the drama unfolded Friday evening. Reflecting over the events of the weekend, here are 7 lessons to be learned (or at least been reminded of) from last week. They may not be your 7, but I hope you can identify with a few of them.
1. The world is a dangerous place to live.
Over the weekend I heard an “expert” say that we now have a “new normal” in the U.S. where we must acknowledge that a bomb could go off anywhere at anytime. I can’t help but think that what happened in Boston happens every day around the world. I don’t say this to lessen the senseless violence and tragedy in our own country. Quite the contrary! When it happens in the United States it hits close to home and becomes real, but it’s also a reminder that evil exists everywhere and when evil people want to do evil things there is not a whole lot that can be done to stop them. Before 9/11 happened most of us in the U.S. lived in a cocoon without realizing how fortunate we are to live in this great country. Our country is still great, but our “safety” bubble has burst and now we are forced to live as global citizens in a dangerous world. John the Elder bluntly states, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one…” (1 John 5:19).
2. You never really know what is going on in other people’s lives.
The 2 suspects looked like normal college students. By all reports they were bright, intelligent, athletic, and out going. They seemed to have it all together. They seemed on track to pursue the American dream. But behind the scenes was something dark and sinister. Who knows why they did what they did. Does it really matter? The lesson for me is to strive to get beyond surface relationships with people and to really get to know and build relationships with people, especially people who are different from me. People all around you are hurting and hurt people hurt people. This lesson reminds me of the words of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
3. Good people still exist in the world, and in your neighborhood.
At first glance this lesson may seem to contradict numbers 1 and 2, but I don’t think it does. There are countless stories of people running toward the explosion, putting their own lives at risk, to help others. Yes, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, and yes, the world is full of evil; but because of God’s common grace, and because we have all been created in His image, there is potential for good inside everyone and within us all is the capacity to reach outside ourselves and consider others better than ourselves. What can you do this week to show the goodness of God to someone in need?
4. Life goes on.
I thought about this all day Friday. As the citizens of Watertown were told to lock themselves inside their homes, and as most of Boston looked like a ghost town, I had classes to teach and work to do. I’m sure you went to work as well. And I bet you that today, in Watertown, business are once again opened, Little League practice has resumed, and life goes on. It may not go on as normal, but it goes on nevertheless.
Solomon writes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
The Beatles put it this way, “Life flows on within you and without you” (George Harrison, Within You Without You)
5. All that really matters is faith and family.
Events like last week remind us all what is really important, and to me, all that really matters is my faith in God and my wonderful family. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
6. I still believe Jesus is the answer and the local church is the hope of the world.
While others ask why God allow bad things to happen, I see God working through all situations. Besides, just think how much worse things would be if you removed faith and hope in Jesus from the equation all together. Without hope, all that is left is despair. The psalmist wrote, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
7. “Run Forrest run…”
I mention this lesson as a tribute to all my friends who will run in the Music City Marathon this Saturday (April 27th). I wish I was a runner, but I am not. If you are a runner, and have plans on running in an upcoming marathon or 5k, or just around the block, run and run with pride. Run in memory and honor of those injured and killed in Boston; and run as a statement that we will not let evil overcome us and we will not live our lives in fear.
Last Thursday (April 18th) at a prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, President Obama said, “We carry on. We race. We strive. We build and we work and we love and we raise our kids to do the same…And this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon…Bet on it.”
One last thing, as we reflect and learn from the events in Boston, let’s not forget to pray for those in West, Texas.