“Editor’s note: As of April 23rd, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a suspect in the Boston marathon bombings and has not been tried or convicted of the crime.”
“Prayers for Boston and all those affected.” “Keeping the suspects and victims, everyone, in my prayers tonight.” – Facebook statuses from Christian friends
“My heart and thoughts go out to Boston” “Sending positive energy and hope your way, Boston!” – Facebook statuses from non-Christian friends
All of us saw statuses like these on Facebook over the course of the past few days as the country reeled in horror at the bombings that unfolded at the Boston Marathon, the shooting that took the life of a 26-year-old MIT policeman, and the manhunt that finally ended the nightmare. But why is it that Christians want to pray or bring God into the picture when tragedy hits?
When Christians say or post that we’re “praying” or offering up “prayers,” has it become a self-righteous form of declaring to the world that we’re set apart in some way? How can we say that a God who hears the prayers of His people, a God who is supposedly omnipotent, lets people like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev exist? Many questions have come up recently…questions that I don’t want to ask, perhaps questions I’ll never be able to answer.
But the beauty of God and of Christianity lies in exactly this: we cry out to God in prayer because we don’t understand. We run to His arms in prayer because we’re confused and scared about a shooting at an elementary school. We spend valuable time we could be working on a paper or problem set in prayer because we’re searching for answers. I don’t put my faith in God because I know exactly what He’s doing. Far from it. I trust Him because He’s brought me to my knees through pain and hardship, only to find myself realizing in retrospect that He used that heartache and sorrow to bring me closer to Him.
So why would I rather send prayers than positive energy to a city crippled by a week of violence and terror? Because I believe that the God I’m talking to has the answers. Because I know He loves me so much He’ll do whatever it takes to keep me by His side or to lead me to His arms. Because I trust that someone who sent His only Son to die for my brokenness and failures won’t let history’s greatest sacrifice go to waste. Because I believe in the power of prayer.
Unite in prayer. For Yale. For Boston. For America.