“Why, O Lord?”


Photo taken by Author

After the explosions in Boston during the marathon yesterday, the news media, Facebook and Twitter lit up with comments and prayers. Today, many of the blogs I follow are commenting more eloquently than I about their response to the event. Some people are angry, some want revenge, some say that it was terrorists while others say we don’t know that. Some focus on how to talk to children about what they are hearing and seeing in the media. Others have reminded us of Mr. Rogers when he said he always “looks for the helpers.” There is a wide range of opinions and responses that reflect the deep sadness and horror we feel.
Many, including myself ask “why”?    I have a hard time understanding why someone would want to hurt fans watching a marathon. Perhaps it is my own naivete I felt the same strange lack of understanding when a gunman shot first responders to a house fire on Christmas Eve here in the Rochester, NY area. The only thing I can think of in response to the question “why?” is that they want to cause fear- which is a definition of a terrorist.
Yet, even as I ask the question, I realize that I will never get a satisfactory answer to my question. They may find the person responsible and ask them the same question, but will it help me any knowing the reason?
Even though the Psalmist did not receive an answer, it did not stop him from asking God the hard questions. “Why?” is frequently asked in the book of psalms. The one that stood out to me today is Psalm 74: 10-11: “How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand?” It may feel like God is sitting on God’s metaphorical hands letting these tragedies happen. After the psalmist lays out these questions, he turns to remembering all the ways in which God did act in the world. Then he asks God to remember God’s covenant, remember and act powerfully on behalf of the people God loves. Most likely, I will not get a satisfactory answer to “why” but I can hold this situation up in prayer- hold it before God and say, “remember your covenant. Remember your love for your people and send healing, peace, and hope into this situation.”
I wondered if I should say anything at all since so many others already have. Then I remembered that as Christians, we need to say something. We need to express our feelings, whatever they may be, and respond both in the church and with our friends about these tragic events. Far too often, we remain silent about what we think and feel about events of tragedy and injustice in the world. Maybe we have believed the lie we have been told that church and the world do not mix. Maybe we are afraid of offending someone. Maybe we don’t want to be criticized for how we feel. There are lots of reasons to stay silent, but one reason to say something- we are called to be witnesses to the world. Witnesses of the good news that the light of hope replaces darkness and God has triumphed over death. Witnesses of peace and justice in a world where all too often these are lacking.
I may not have anything particularly new or profound to say, but I will say what is on my heart. I will say something because that is what I, and we, are called to do.