There are never any words sufficient to address the senseless acts of violence that are happening too frequently in our world. Our instinct as human beings is to somehow try and make sense of it all, to find an explanation, to express our concern and prayers, and ultimately to get even. However we respond, we are still left with a bunch of questions, and most of them begin with why…
Why, at the finish line of a marathon, of all places?
Why intentionally inflict this kind of pain on fellow human beings?
Why have we not moved beyond this kind of barbaric, violent way of dealing with our differences?
Why, why, WHY?
Even those in the church have tried to come up with some sort of theological explanation. Unfortunately, there are those who insist that God is behind the scenes using such tragedies as acts of judgement against God’s own creation. There are those who claim Satan did it, free will allows it and God chooses not to intervene through it. While there is a time to seek understanding, that time is not in the midst of raw pain, intense shock and inconsolable grief.
So, how can we respond as human beings?
How do we respond as those who claim to be followers of the risen Christ?
I suppose I should not assume that we will respond at all. After all, if there is no tangible way made available, we will likely go about our lives feeling and doing little to counter such horrific realities. Sure, we will post some kind, thoughtful words on Facebook and offer up our prayers, but any kind of active, ongoing response is doubtful. We know this is just the way things are, and if we are honest, we have grown accustomed to images of war, bombings and injustice that flow through our computers and TVs.
We are no longer moved. Our hearts are no longer broken.
For those who know me, you know I can not stand easy, trite responses to the incredible sufferings that happen in and around us. Sometimes, this leads me to say and do nothing at all. This morning, though, as I ran through my neighborhood, I was searching my mind for possible (and appropriate) responses to yet another crazy tragedy. After finding flaw with almost all of our usual half-hearted attempts, that’s when it came to me.
The only appropriate response to insane, senseless, heart-breaking acts of violence are insane, senseless, heart-healing acts of love.
Crazy, I know, but stay with me for a minute. We can never explain away, kill off or make sense of the awful evils that continue to threaten our lives and spirits. When will we learn that neat explanations and calculated revenge are no match for insane and unrelentless evils? If that is the case, then what are we left with? I think we know deep down, but it is perhaps the most difficult of all of our options.
The only appropriate response is love.
I’m not talking about the cautious, calculated, safe kind of love we are prone to extend. Rather, I am talking about the kind that Jesus talked about and lived – the kind that showed up as he ate and drank with strangers, the kind that showed up in the stories he told, the kind that looks like foot washing and forgiveness, like words of love while hanging from a cross. I’m not talking about the come to us and we will help youkind of love, it’s the kind that goes with people in the midst of their hurt and pain and offers a no-strings-attached presence. It’s the spontaneous, there’s nothing in it for me kind of love that lets people know that they are loved and valued children of God. It’s the I don’t have the words to say, but I will be with you kind of love that meant more to us than anything when we were the ones suffering.
In the midst of our feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, is there anything that we can do to counter the senseless violence that plagues us?
Yes. We can follow the One who showed us how to respond in the face of unspeakable violence. He chose to love in a way that made no sense. He suffered and died for that love, but he also experienced resurrection. I can not think of no greater way to live or to die than in extending wide open arms of love. It’s crazy, I know. Some say it’s complete foolishness, but I believe it is the way to abundant and everlasting love.
So, I suppose I am inviting you to join me in doing something a little senseless today -
leave behind the explanations,
the brainstorming of solutions,
and the fascination with media coverage
and do something
in the name of Love.
This blog originally posted on Losing and Finding, on Thursday, April 15, 2013.