“It’s utter pandemonium…Everybody’s just in disbelief and sadness.”
These are the words of one witness to the bombings at the Boston marathon on Monday. Runners and spectators scattered in pandemonium as loud explosions went off near the finish line. As the news broke my first thought was…why? Why would anyone do something like this? We’ve seen it before…but it sickens my stomach every time.
We live in a broken world for sure. And we should expect suffering and even death as a result of sin’s entrance into creation order, but gratuitous evil human actions like these leave us not only weeping – but scratching our heads.
When it comes to suffering, death, and evil there will always be questions. Honestly, there are some questions, like “why”, that often have no clear explanation when it comes to the particulars. What happened in Boston was a tragic case of what theologians call moral evil. Moral evil is that which is the direct result of human volition. Someone did this. Rest assured that the persons who planted those explosives will answer for their actions – hopefully to the law, certainly to God almighty (Matthew 12, Romans 14, Revelation 20).
As a Christian I believe that ultimately the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only comfort we have in facing these horrible realities. The days are evil. But one day Christ will return. Listen to the words of the Apostle John in Revelation 21:3-5;
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
As we long for that day let us seek justice in all wrongs, peace when all possible, and always point to Christ as the hope that is within us. And what about those who ask – why does God allow things like this to continue? I think Tim Keller deals with this question well from the perspective of an evangelical Christian in his book The Reason for God;
“The death of Jesus was qualitatively different from any other death. The physical pain was nothing compared to the spiritual experience of cosmic abandonment. Christianity alone among the worlds religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment. On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. In His death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken. Why did he do it? The Bible says that Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation. He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.
If we were to ask the question: “why does God allow evil and suffering to continue” and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It cant be that He doesn’t love us. It cant be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.
So, if we embrace the Christian teaching that Jesus is God and that he went to the cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth. We can know that God is truly Immanuel- God with us- even in our worst sufferings”
Let us continue to turn to Christ as our only hope. In these moments let us pray for the families of those who died. Let us pray for those who are hurt. All the while asking in our hearts, How long, O Lord? with the Psalmist.