“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
On Monday, April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and wounding over 140 others. Currently, two days later, we still know nothing about committed this act of terror, or even why. As if knowing would somehow bring meaning to such tragedy, as though there could possibly be some explanation to justify the killing of innocent men, women, children.
I struggle to find the words that would express the heartbreak, the anger, the fear that such violence brings. Lately, I’ve found myself reading the Psalms just to have something to pray, it has been difficult to find my own words.
Truth be told, I am also saddened by the “knee-jerk” reaction of my own mind – this had to have been some Islamic terrorist striking fear into the nation – that’s where my thoughts went immediately. There’s no proof. Outside of historical trends, there’s nothing to support the notion. It’s just my hatred, my fear, my anger needing someone, something, to stand as a target. When faced with evil, it is easy to respond with evil, quick decisions, rash assumptions, broad generalizations, and indiscriminate retribution. How many times after 9/11 did you hear people talking about turning the Middle East to glass?
So how do we respond? What can we say? Let me offer, briefly, a few responses.
Remember we live in a broken and sinful world. While we can often feel secure in our own quiet corners of the world, having managed our sins into respectability, the truth is that the world is broken and evil is very much real. We live in a world that is in desperate need of salvation, and every day we must “be killing sin, or sin will be killing us.”
Remember that we are called to compassionate ministry. Paul says in Romans 12:15, “weep with those who weep.” In 2 Corinthians Paul blesses God, “the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” The comfort that you have received in Christ, the assurance of your salvation, the mercy of your pardon from sin, the grace of everlasting life; all of this is the comfort we have received from God, and the comfort we can share with others.
Remember to give thanks for God’s daily grace. When you realize that this kind of violence is shocking and rare for us, we can be grateful for the restraining grace of God that protects us and prevents us from even greater evil. Such remembrance, however, should also cause us to prayer for those for whom this kind of violence is commonplace, like those in Israel, and all of the Middle East. Let us also be grateful for those who ran into danger to help those in need, the first responders, the other runners and bystanders.
Repent. Repent of the anger and rage, the thirst for vengeance that is smeared with sin. Repent of the dependence on military strength and political savvy as the source of your security and confidence. Repent of the quiet complacency with the “acceptable sins” of our society while decrying this outrageous act of violence. We will not rest until this act of terror is brought to justice and rightfully so. But should we not also be as committed to seeking justice for the thousands of unborn who died on April 15, to the countless lives lost in Kermit Gosnell’s government funded death clinic? R.C. Sproul once wrote, “The American psyche has no place for a God who judges people or nations. God can bless us, but God forbid He ever judges us. Rather than repent in dust and ashes before a holy God, we continue to shake our fists in His face, demanding a more benevolent providence from His hand.”
Live for the Kingdom of God. The rest of Romans 12:9-21 speaks to our moving forward. I’ve highlighted a few verses here:
- Let love be genuine.
- Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
- Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
- Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
- To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Finally, remember Christ is coming. We longing for the day when, rather than blood in the streets, righteousness will roll like the streams, when God will judge the actions of man, and righteousness will reign. We look to that day when He will wipe away every tear, “and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
And so we pray, Come Lord Jesus!