10 days ago, we began to hear the horrific news that two bombs had been detonated at the Boston Marathon with hundreds of casualties. The tragedy, we have come to find out, was perpetrated by two brothers, 26 and 19 who had anti-American leanings. We watched last week as the drama unfolded and the two men were hunted down by the FBI, one losing his life and the other captured. We came to find out that as many as 24 people lost limbs in this attack and 3 lost their lives, one of whom was 8-years-old. Painful, horrifying, unthinkable. Pick an adjective, it won’t do justice to the incredible sense of loss so many are still feeling as a result of this tragedy.
Now that some of the news mongering has died down, I thought I would offer a perspective. First of all, I am still praying for those affected by the attack. Losing a loved one in this manner, not to mention a child, I’m confident creates an agonizing gash in the soul that I don’t pretend to comprehend. Those who were wounded, who lost limbs, are right now experiencing trauma that most will never grasp. I have a dear friend who lost a leg in a dreadful accident 18 months ago, he is still, to this day, courageously traversing an array of daily challenges, not to mention incredible nerve pain that literally incapacitates him. My first response is prayer for grace and mercy for all affected.
My second response is concern and probably not for the same reason as most. I’m deeply concerned that the collective response of many, even among believers, is a mix of retribution and fear. The cries for justice are only equaled by the fearful debates over what’s coming next. Don’t get me wrong, I want justice. I believe that those responsible should be punished for their crimes. However, no matter how much they are punished it will not make this wrong right, nor will it stop something similar from happening in the future. True Justice is when a wrong is fully vindicated. True justice can only be enacted by One who is Just and True. When Jesus returns He will make right every wrong. He has a perfect record of every injustice and will not allow one of them to go unaddressed. My point is that our mentalities of justice don’t exactly represent the justice of God. Our ways fall far short of God’s ways. He alone is the One who knows how to vindicate injustice and ultimately put an end to lawlessness.
Lawlessness is really the issue here. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 explains, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work…” This mystery, Paul sums up as, the fact that mankind doesn’t love truth but instead loves unrighteousness (2 Thes 2:12). Even though God has continually loved humanity, always beckoning man to Himself, mankind has rejected truth and righteousness. This is the mystery of lawlessness. My point is, these kinds of tragedies, as horrific as they are, are to be expected because the mystery of lawlessness is at work in the earth.
Jesus adds some clarity to how we are to think about the challenges associated with lawlessness, “See to it that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass…(Mat 24:6)” He goes on to admonish that as His return nears lawlessness will increase (Mat 24:12). This is a huge point. If we will embrace Jesus’ perspective on these things we will not be shocked with fear when calamities happen. The truth is calamities will continue to happen and increase through the end of this age. Jesus calls His people to not fear in the face of calamity, but instead endure to the end.
Life in this age is difficult. It is filled with trials. Jesus said, “In this world you WILL HAVE TRIBULATION, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” The posture believers must embrace in order to stand through this very difficult and trying time is watchfulness in prayer (Luke 21:36). A life of prayer is the essential that will enable believers to stand through the most difficult time the earth will ever see.
As for vengeance and vindication? The Lord says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay!(Rom 12:19)” Believers are actually instructed to do good and pray for those who abuse us(Mat 5:44). When you understand that the Lord is going to bring to justice every injustice with unrestrained vengeance you will pray for those who mistreat you, in recognition of the unthinkable disaster that awaits them if they don’t repent and turn to the Lord.
I pray that our eyes would be opened to the reality of life in this age and the necessity of prayer to stand through every trial and challenge, in no way shocked by lawlessness, knowing that it is to be expected and can be overcome through prayer and the power of the kingdom.