Yesterday as I watched the Boston events unfolding on TV, I talked with my cousin, Lane Williams Yoder. She and I rejoiced that our loved ones and friends were okay, and grieved together over those who were not okay. She said something that I pondered over and over. She said what caught her attention were those that ran toward the destruction instead of away from it. Those first responders, whether official or bystander, are heroes indeed. My thoughts immediately went to the picture in my brain of the brave responders on 9/11 in NYC. Ironically, Lane was in NYC for that terrible event in our nation’s history.
What is it that someone possesses that propels them forward to help others, despite risk to themselves? And how can I develop more courage to be that kind of person?
Reflections on Boston
Yesterday, like millions of other Americans, I sat glued to the TV, watching the events unfold in Boston, watching the video of the bombs going off play over and over and over again on the news. While my heart broke for the ones injured and grieved for the ones who died and while my body felt numb and in shock, what moved me to tears was seeing those who literally ran to the bomb site. Within seconds of the first bomb exploding and as smoke poured into the street, some ran away and some ran towards. I find no fault whatsoever with those who ran away. To be sure, that would have been my reaction, but then, there are those who ran towards. They ran towards the smoke, towards the blast site, towards the finish line fencing, towards the victims on the sidewalk. Policemen, volunteers, National Guardsmen, race physicians, other spectators, other runners – all strangers, I assume, to those who needed help. What is that, I ask God and I ask myself, that people would do that – run towards danger rather than away? My only answer to this question is God. For some, He has gifted with a visceral, instinctual, without hesitation reaction in times of crisis – people who, without a thought for their own personal safety, can run unbridled towards chaos and confusion and towards people who are in desperate need of help. I thank God for these people and who He has made them to be.
So what might be our take-away or even our prayer from this, this running towards thing? I think our take-away is, at least, two-fold. As Christians, shouldn’t we go without hesitation to those who need help desperately? I think about the story of the Good Samaritan – a story of a man who goes towards to a wounded and bloody person on the side of the road, bandages him up and takes him to a safe place. Can we draw any parallels between that parable and what we saw on the news yesterday – strangers helping wounded and bloody people on the side of the street, bandaging them up as best they could and then wheeling them to an ambulance? Then, I think about the words of Pastor John Piper who said, “[As Christians] we exist to relieve all suffering, especially eternal.” Shouldn’t we turn instinctually towards, and not away, from those who we know desperately need Jesus? These questions, even as I type, challenge and convict me. But, beyond this, my prayer truly for all affected, for all who watched, for all who ask why?, is, “Lord, let us not run away from you, but by your mercy and grace, let us run unbridled towards you, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.”
For those wounded yesterday, God, you are Sovereign.
For those who lost loved ones, God, you are Sovereign.
For those who gave care and comfort, God, you are Sovereign.
For those whose lives are changed forever, God, you are Sovereign.
For a city and a nation which grieves, God, you are Sovereign.
God, in our healing, you are Sovereign.
–Lane Williams Yoder