Vengeance is a human trait. Among the 260 people injured at the Boston Marathon bombings, there have been fourteen amputations, permanent nerve damage, hearing loss, three deaths, and another layer of innocence lost forever. How does faith comfort in light of random and relentless evil?
In this world, no amount of man-made justice will ever satisfy, or be perfectly applied. For many who grieve, no punishment of the guilty could be quick or harsh enough. Even the death penalty brings little closure, as reported by many witnesses to capital punishment who have lost loved ones to murder. While laws are in place and judgment will be served, true justice can never pass from human hands because no judge or jury can fully know every motivation or all mitigating factors that come into play.
If one believes that punishment can never be equal to the horror, such feelings can create despair. I, like thousands of others, feel great sorrow at the inexplicable violence against the innocent. Is there no justice? Hebrews 4:12-13 says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
A full accounting is possible only to The One Who Knows All. The difference between soul and spirit is not easily made. Who can fathom or fully know the thoughts and attitudes of another’s heart? What saves me from bitterness is my belief that an omnipotent God dispenses perfect justice. It will not take place by my timing or my terms, but it will happen, and it is not for me to imagine the sentence, but to be reassured that divine justice will be a perfect fit.
Obviously, my belief will not sweep aside the pain, or replace the loss, or create sense out of the senseless. Yet my belief that God will put all things to right helps me to refocus my thoughts to things I can change. There are overwhelming reminders of God within each of us. That even in the face of unspeakable loss, we hold out hope and refuse to be defined by an escalation in hatred.
I drove toward Boston and read a brightly colored poster mounted on an overpass, “No more hurting people – peace” – the lasting words of 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed at the marathon. From another overpass, I saw American flags fluttering, unity and resilience in the face of tragedy. Flowers, cards, and memorials flank the bombing scene, tributes from strangers who weep and promise to always remember. Within hours, millions of dollars were raised and continue to pour in to help the victims.
Inner darkness breeds vengeance and hatred. But hope and goodness are not extinguished in the face of, yet again, senseless tragedy. It is amazing how millions remain brightly lit from within with a resilience to reach out and help. Like rescuers at the bombings, we run, inexplicably, toward a blinding light.
|Suzette Standring from Boston Massachusetts|