As we ponder the senseless bombings in Boston this week, our minds go back to the Newtown shootings and to what happened on 9/11. As one terrorism expert said recently, “No one is safe anymore.” Americans are very concerned about what has happened in the past, we worry about what is taking place right now, and many are filled with fear regarding the future.
One headline on CNN.com grabbed my attention this week: “It Can Happen Anywhere.” The post began this way: “If September 11, 2001 was the day everything changed, then April 15, 2013 serves as another reminder of that change, of our frailties and of a new reality in which ‘it can’t happen here’ has been replaced by ‘it can happen anywhere.’”
I’d like to suggest ten biblical lessons we can apply that will help us stay grounded even when the headlines shout out doom and destruction. During these days of emotional whiplash, these timeless truths are comforting because they provide a framework that will help us process problems in our world and to deal with the losses of life that we all experience.
10. God is powerful and in control. Even when bombs explode on earth, God reigns in heaven and earth. The Bible tells us that God works wonders, even when we are not aware of them, and especially when we don’t understand what has happened. Isaiah 40:22: “…He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth…”
9. God loves to bring good out of bad. This principle helps us see that with God at the center of life, there’s always reason to hope. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
8. Things will get worse before they get better. As we get closer to the end of the world, the Bible says that things will get increasingly worse: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1). John Piper, when reflecting on the flowing bloodshed in Boston, adds this insight: “These are public punctuations of the evil in the world because of human sin and rebellion against God.”
7. Live one day at a time. One of the best ways to beat anxiety is to simply focus on the day in front of us: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
6. We are made for a different place. For the believer in Jesus Christ, this world is not our home. 2 Corinthians 5:1 reminds us: “…we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven…”
5. Jesus meets us in the storms of life. No matter what you are going through right now, or what hurricanes will hit your heart in the future, remember that when the storms show up, so does the Savior. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
4. Jesus is coming again. After Jesus ascended into Heaven we read this announcement in Acts 1:11: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
3. The Bible is filled with predictive prophecy. When asked about what signs to look for that will tell us that the second coming of Christ is near, Jesus made this statement in Matthew 24:7-8: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
2. Run to the Lord. This world is not safe. The things we tend to trust in are fragile. God invites us to seek refuge in Him: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runt to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). In the CNN post I mentioned above, the author concludes with these words: “So if September 11, 2001, was the day our innocence was taken, then April 15, 2013, is the reminder that it is never coming back.”
1. Get yourself ready. I’m reminded of the passage in the gospels where some people told Jesus about an event similar to the bombings in Boston, when a number of innocent people were annihilated. Jesus then brings up another situation in which 18 people were killed when a tower fell on them. In both instances, Jesus doesn’t give them an answer as to “why” these things happened. Instead, he personalizes it and says, “Unless you repent, you too will perish!” (Luke 13:4-5).
Are you ready to repent right now and receive what only Jesus can give you? If you had been in Boston when the bombs hit or in those twin towers when they were toppled, would you have been ready to meet Jesus? Are you prepared for what will come next? Remember…it can happen anywhere.