News outlets continue to pour out details of the Boston Marathon bombing. With three dead, 264 injured, including 25 amputee victims, we strain for more information as to accomplices, plans, possible international connections, and especially motive. Why? Why? Why? we want to know.
A disaster such as this one (and there are many others) brings home a number of lessons. One is the fragility of life, and the certainty of death. We usually refuse to look at that aspect of living–we all die. Another is religious martyrdom. In the faith of the perpetrators, the one sure way of obtaining eternal salvation is to die a martyr–and to bring unbelievers with you. Otherwise there is no certainty: you can only hope. In our increasingly secular culture, such religious motivation escapes us. It’s poverty, radicalization, or the Internet. Factor in also usefulness to the goal of world domination and attacking religious enemies. Those may all play a part, but the driving force is the glory of martyrdom and the assurance of salvation.
The Book of Job deals with such tragedy. Two of the four disasters which wiped Job out of his businesses, employees, and children, are brutal attacks from marauding tribes. “The boys were put to the sword” (1:15, 17), the sole survivors say.
The sudden reversal of happy, productive life is a theme of Job. When Job is the victim of such carnage, what will he say? Will he curse God? When we are victims of such carnage, what do we say? How strong is our faith in a God who knows us, counts the hairs on our head, and loves us?
In your most recent test, how has your faith fared ?