Boston has been on my heart this past week... It’s so tragic to watch the news from across the world and see devastation in the places you know and love, thinking “I walk down that street all the time” or “I get groceries there.” Due to the poor decisions of two individuals, three lives were lost and hundreds of lives will be forever altered – my heart is broken on behalf of the families that were affected. As friends I know posted on Facebook that they were safe, tears came to my eyes and I prayed prayers of thanksgiving, knowing that others were not as lucky.
Yet in the midst of hardship, God promises that He will work all things to the good of those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). It obviously wasn’t His will for this to happen, but He is a redeeming God, good at making even the most ugly situations beautiful and full of hope. In addition to funds being established to support those affected by the blast, I was intrigued to see how the Christian community in Boston came around those in need. Rev. LeSette Wright of Peacekeepers organized available clergy to pray for and provide support for individuals, families, and first responders. In addition, more than eighteen separate vigils were held in Boston and the surrounding area in honor of the victims. Below, a moment captured from a candlelight service in Dorchester:
God has placed a dream in my heart for unity among Christian brothers and sisters, so it was inspiring to see the Christian community come together to care for the people who had been affected. But these past few days I’ve been thinking: Why does tragedy lead to unity?
Whenever the church has been persecuted, it has flourished. This started in the first church in Acts – people were imprisoned, flogged, murdered – and yet this only fanned the flame of fire in the people who had seen the miracles of a man named Jesus and were ready to die for what they had experienced. Today, according to the Voice of the Martyrs, there are currently 52 countries in the world where where government policy or practice prevents Christians from obtaining Bibles and laws lead to Christians being harassed. Yet in China, a nation where any non-governmental religious program is prohibited, Christianity has flourished – with a complex network of thousands of secret meetings happening in the underground church every day.
So, why does tragedy lead to unity?
I believe that tragedy forces us to take our eyes off of ourselves and forces us to look bigger. It takes us off of our high horses and humbles us, so that we realize that we’re not as big as we think we are in this world. Tragedy and hardship break us, but in a good way. Because it’s in the midst of this brokenness, that God births dependence – Dependence on one another and (hopefully) dependence on Him.
So I’ve been thinking – what will it take for the Church to put aside our differences and come around the One who redeemed us and made us whole? Specifically, what will have to happen in the Church in the city of Boston to turn competition into cooperation and resentment into love?
As have met people in Malaysia, I mention that I’m from Boston – they think for a moment and then ask me if that was the place that the bombings happened. “Yes,” I affirm.
Yet I want Boston to be known for so much more than this act of hatred, or its rich history, or as a hub of university students and intellectuals, or that it’s the home of the Red Sox.
I want it to be known as a place of love. Boston was founded to be a city on a hill, as a light to the nations. Let’s work together to lift up Jesus, the redeemer of our souls and the center of our faith. We need to pull together now more than ever in Jesus name, knowing that he has conquered the pain of this world and our hope is in Him.
I question you – what could God do with a city that is united in His love? Can God unite an entire city, not due to tragic circumstances or persecution but because of the power of the one who loved us first? This is the question that burns on my heart, day in and day out, night after night. Jesus prayed that we would be one as He is one with the Father, so I know it will take place. The only question is: “How” and “When?” I believe that he has placed the answers to these two questions into our hands…He has given us, the Church, His body here on earth, the incredible responsibility of showing the world what love truly looks like.
I want to leave you with a short film put together by Grace Chapel, entitled “In Boston as it is in Heaven,” to encourage those who are hurting and distressed in our city:
Behold, I will bring health and healing to the city. I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.~Jeremiah 33:6
May His kingdom come and His will be done in Boston and to the ends of the earth!