Monday, May 2, 2011

Conflicted: Reaction to the death of Bin Laden

This morning I am reminded of my own humanity. Last night at 11, George woke me up with the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed by US forces. Immediately my heart leapt for joy and I started talking. To be honest, I don't remember a word I said. It will be interesting to hear that from George later, because I'm sure it was my flesh, my humanity talking. The part of me that was terrified the morning of September 11, 2001, wondering if every city in our country was being attacked; wondering if everyone I loved was safe; gasping in horror as I watched the first tower, and then the second tower fall. The part of me that wept in my office as they read the names of the civilians killed and the heroes fallen on the one year anniversary. The part of me that rallied behind President Bush when he promised to hunt down those responsible. The part of me that was so angry with every tape released of Bin Laden speaking such evil and using it as propaganda for more people to hate our country and committ terrorist acts against us. I hated him. I hated those who follow him. And now, I hate myself for feeling joy during this time.
Joy is a good feeling when it comes after a prayer is answered. Oh how my heart leapt when my friend's baby survived his first heart surgery. Joy made my heart grow two sizes the afternoon that I was finally able to hold my baby, William, in my arms after 9 months of anxiety. Joy is what I feel as I lay in bed next to my husband, with my three children safe in their beds, and all is quiet and good. It sickens me that last night I felt that joy at the death of another person.
I believe in God's wrath. I believe that He sits in righteous judgment over all people and his verdict is made known to them when they die. Murder is abhorrent in the sight of God. After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, it is one of the first acts of sin mentioned in the Bible. Brothers Cain and Abel, the first children of Adam and Eve, worked the land. Abel brought the best of his labor as an offering to God and was blessed. Cain brought an offering too, but he was not blessed, which led to jealousy and anger, and then the murder of his brother. God said in Genesis 4:10, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground." The voice of the blood of 3000 people cries out from the ground, seeking justice, payment for the atrocities of that day. I can only imagine the rage and anger that fills the prayers of all the loved ones. How many prayers has been lifted up begging God to bring this man to justice?
I wonder what God has felt. I want to be careful as I imagine what God might be thinking and feeling. The bible is full of instances where God displays different emotions (wrath, anger, jealousy, love, compassion, sadness) and we assume these are the same emotions we feel since we are made in His image. However, when God feels one of these emotions, it is motivated by his holiness and righteousness. It is not tainted by sin the way our emotions sometimes are.
I believe that God is in mourning right now. God loves each person, unconditionally. From the time he first knits us together in our mother's womb, he loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. God did not love Cain any less after he killed Abel, another child of God. In fact, God has compassion on Cain and protects him from other men seeking vengeance. But that does not diminish the necessity of a reckoning. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, " (Romans 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a).  We have not murdered someone with our hands, but we have murdered them in our minds, cutting them to pieces with our thoughts. We have lied, cheated, stole, hated, envied, slandered, and gossiped.  We are not able to grasp this concept but in the eyes of God, we are just as guilty as Bin Laden. Yet God loves us still, so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die a horrible death on a cruel cross. He wore our sin the way he wore the lashings from the cat-of-nine-tails, the gashes in his skull from the crown of thorns, the bruises from being beaten, the spit of those who mocked him, and the holes from the nails in his hands and feet (Matthew 27). It is a horrible image, but this is the greatest gift, "the gift of God [that] is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
God loved Osama Bin Laden. God created him for a purpose and watched him every second of every day. He smiled the first time he cooed as a baby and sat with his mom as he took his first steps. He was there, sitting in sorrow, during Bin Laden's first indoctrination into the terrorist mindset. I believe he sought after him the same way he called the Israelites "Sought After" (Isaiah 62:12) when they had turned their back on Him. I believe He whispered to him in the dark and sent signs to him in hopes that he would look up and acknowledge Him. I pray that somehow, some way, he learned the truth and repented in his final days and hours. I pray that he, through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, was made right with God. And if not, I mourn the fact that yet another soul has chosen an eternity in the absence of God. I pray for peace for the loved ones of the victims of his evil acts. May they be comforted this day as they are once again reminded of the loss they faced. Lastly I pray for me and all the other Christians, who feel things that God does not want us to feel, who say things God does not want us to say, who rejoice in things that make God weep.

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