Disbelief.  Horror.  Bewilderment.  Sadness.  Fear.  Anger.  Those emotions cycled through my head and heart over and over Monday as terror descended on the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded near the finish line.  I’ve crossed that finish line three times, and the pictures that streamed from the event were not of a foreign or unfamiliar place.  I’ve walked those sidewalks and run those roads with friends, and it was heart-wrenching to see horror and fear selfishly rob the event of the celebration and joy it previously owned.  I intend – God willing – to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon again, but it will never be the same.  Nor will the lives of those who are suffering injuries, grieving the loss or injury of a loved one, or providing care to the wounded.  Moving through tragedy is difficult, but our inability to understand why such evil is allowed to occur makes it all the more challenging.

… do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Psalms 37:7 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

 Many times, I’ve heard our lives and the events surrounding them likened to puzzle pieces that will one day fit together perfectly as God’s glorious and complete masterpiece.  The image can be comforting when don’t understand why certain events or circumstances surround us.  However, it’s upsetting to acknowledge tragic events – the jagged and ugly puzzle pieces of our lives that have been darkened and distorted by evil – have a place in God’s grand puzzle.  When the enemy invades hearts, destructive choices and acts wreak havoc on the perpetrators – whether or not they acknowledge it – and those affected by their heinous deeds.  When my 3-year-old struggles to fit a piece in a puzzle, he turns it around and around, sometimes with great frustration, trying to get it to fit.  Sometimes, he succeeds.  Other times, I have to show him the way.  And, there are some puzzles, like the 500-piece masterpieces – he is not capable of conquering.  They are beyond his command.  Similarly, we struggle to turn the dark and distorted puzzle pieces of our lives around and around to make them fit.  Sometimes, we succeed and recognize triumph in darkness; tragedy can yield magnificent acts of kindness, selflessness, and deep faith.  Other times, we need someone to show us the way.  And, often, comprehension is simply beyond our capacity.  The wisdom and understanding needed to see God’s grand plan will not come until we’re ready in His eyes.  Lack of understanding can pave a way for fear, anger, and bitterness to settle in our hearts if we let it.  Going forward, I expect the myriad of emotions that accompanies any marathon finish to intensify, no matter where the race is run.  But, fear, anger, and bitterness do not need to line the path of any race or our life; rather, we can line our roads with transformation, forgiveness, love … and hope.

Dear God, please comfort all those who are suffering, particularly those affected by the tragedy in Boston, envelop them with Your peace, and give us courage to live Your will with hope.