Defining Normal

 

President Barack Obama speaks at a service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, MA, on April 18. The service was dedicated to those killed or wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 (White House/Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama speaks at a service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, MA, on April 18. The service was dedicated to those killed or wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 (White House/Lawrence Jackson)

By Mark A. Taylor

It’s been two weeks since the Boston Marathon bombings, April 15. The cable news channels and major web portals continue to report on the aftermath with any shred of related content they can muster. But most of us have turned away from the horror of that day and are concentrating, instead, on the demands of this one.

What other choice do we have? We must be about our jobs, our families, our churches—our kids, our spouses, our parents, our neighbors. And besides the press of our own responsibilities, there’s another factor that pushes us to turn away from the horror in Boston. We’re weary of crisis news in America.

Our psyches are like our bodies; they cannot stay on constant alert. The clinched fist must relax, or the muscles in the wrist will give way. The adrenaline must subside, or the heart will burst.

And when we hear about mothers losing their legs and fathers losing their children, our hearts will break if we think too long about, “What if it were my family?” We don’t want to dwell on the fact that someday the terror could come home to us.

Sometimes I think my wife and I are relatively safe, living here in “flyover country.” Who cares about Cincinnati? But then I remember Oklahoma City and the devastating destruction wreaked on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building 18 years ago (April 19, 1995), and I remember that no one is really safe.

Posting at his website April 21, Bob Russell reminded his readers that “God’s people should live by faith, not by fear,” and he quoted the psalmist who affirmed, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. . . . In God will I trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-11).

This kind of fearless living does not ignore the perils of our life, or run from them, or pretend they don’t exist. We simply move forward with our mission to serve God, affirming that “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

The last half of that statement means most to us when we’ve learned to live out the first. Like Paul, we can give ourselves to lifting up Christ, who ultimately is the only hope in the face of evil and comfort on the occasion of death.

Bob Russell reminded his readers, “The best hope for a secure America is evangelism.”

We probably will never fully understand what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers to such horrendous evil. But we do know what could have prevented it. If a Christian had befriended them and introduced them to Jesus Christ, their lives could have been transformed and so much heartache could have been prevented.

So returning to normal may not be our best response two weeks after the terror, unless our normal includes a passion to reach and teach people all around us who do not know Jesus. What better way do we have to forestall the influences for evil that lurk all around us?

 

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