Lessons from Boston

Monday, April 15, 2013, was a sad day for the city of Boston.  As the Boston Marathon was underway, two bombs were set off near the finish line that killed three and injured many more.  Video and pictures of the attack captured the emotions and chaos that followed the blast, but was also critical in helping identify and stop the men responsible for the explosions. 

            Tragedies such as the one that occurred in Boston often raise more questions than answers.  “How could anyone do this?” and “What is this world coming to?” are questions that many people wonder about.  While not every question can be answered satisfactorily, there are many lessons with spiritual applications to take from the incident in Boston. 

Life Is Not Guaranteed

            You cannot help but think of what a normal day it was before the two bombs went off in Boston.  Figuratively, the people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” as they ran, cheered, and applauded.  Nobody could have expected what was about to happen.

            While we are not to live our lives in fear of the unknown, we must always keep before us the brevity of our life. “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Psalm 39:4, 5).  Our mortality is not a pleasant thought to dwell upon, yet because death is something we will all face (Hebrews 9:27), our focus should be on properly redeeming the time we are given (Ephesians 5:16).

Life Is More Important Than Things

            If you have turned your television on or been on the internet in the past week then it is very likely you have seen some coverage of the Boston Marathon.  One thing you may have not heard or seen (and I believe appropriately) is who actually won the marathon.  Running 26.2 miles is no small feat, yet I have not heard a winner declared.  Why is this?

            “….One’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).  I believe we are all well aware that our bank accounts, cars in the garage, and personal accomplishments, such as winning a race, are not what really matters in this life, yet how often do we forget to put first things first in our lives?  The moments Boston lived are never desirable, however they can serve a useful purpose in helping us to step back and readjust our priorities to things of true value.  It is unfortunate that this lesson is usually remembered after a tragedy of this magnitude; but, would it not be sadder if we failed to apply it?  Are you diligently making an effort to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)?

Finish the Race

            Surely, by now most have seen the iconic image of the older gentleman who was knocked to the ground by the force of the explosion just meters before the finish line.  After picking himself up, this man, Bill Iffrig, 78, crossed the finish line amidst the chaos around him.  In an interview this man later explained his actions, “after running 26 miles, you’re not going to just stop there.”  Are there not some lessons we can learn from this attitude?

            The New Testament is rich with running and athletic analogies (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:5).  We are also told that trials will come and slow us down in our attempt to finish the race (1 Peter 4:12).  Consider the advice we are offered by the author of Hebrews in response to the problem of trials. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….” (Hebrews 12:1).  The author points out that we must remove anything that would slow us down (or, in this case, knock us down) and that perseverance is a key to finishing.  When knocked down by trial or sin, may we always discard it from our life that at the end we may be able to say, “[We] have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7).

This World Is Not Our Home

            Being saddened by current events is appropriate (Matthew 23:37; John 11:35).  What happened on April 15th in Boston is lamentable.  At the same time, Christians realize that while we are inhabitants of this physical earth our citizenship belongs to a kingdom that is not of this world (John 18:36; Philippians 3:20).  Because of this fact, when we do not understand what is going on in this world, it ought to remind us that we are looking for a city where there is no pain, death, sorrow, or crying and the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4). 

            The events that occurred in Boston can teach us many things: the frailty of life, the importance of properly prioritizing, finishing the race, and looking forward to the heavenly city.  Please consider these lessons of spiritual importance and allow them to impact your living.