The vast majority of us will probably never experience the extreme tragedy that befell those who attended the 2013 version of the iconic Boston footrace or the citizens of West who lived near the plant that exploded. However, any of us could.
The sobering reality is that we live in a fallen world. Human nature is stained, even saturated, by sinful self-interest that knows no bounds.
In the case of the Boston bombing, sin seems to have manifested itself in unspeakable evil aimed at no one in particular. While the motive remains unclear, in the end it will make no sense and no difference to those who were victims of the explosions.
In the tiny town of West, it is likely someone failed to follow a safety protocol. Perhaps it was just an accidental oversight. Maybe it was forgetfulness. However, like the Boston bombing, to those impacted by the explosion no explanation will make much of a difference.
A variety of lessons and observations can and will be made in the wake of the twin tragedies that took place the third week of April, 2013. However, the one that strikes me as most profound is that nothing can be done to provide absolute protection from the evil and danger that is ever present around us.
So, how are we to live? Some choose to dwell in a constant state of paranoia. They arm themselves to the teeth and expect the worst.
Others simply pretend the illusion of safety is real. They believe the adage that ignorance is bliss and believe the government can actually ensure their safety at all times. They hope that tragedy is something that happens to other people.
Instead of paranoia and pretending, perhaps a better approach to the illusion of absolute security is preparation. Is it possible to prepare for unexpected and unspeakable tragedy?
One way to prepare for the uncertainty of the future is by praying. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Jesus said that worry cannot add anything to our life or change anything. To keep from being paralyzed by paranoia or deluded pretense, pray and boldly live your life.
Another way to prepare for the unknown of the future is to communicate to your loved ones. Every day, let those closest to you know that you love and appreciate them. Regularly communicate your care and affection to your extended family.
In the Bible, James wrote, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes a way" (James 4:14).
If my life were to end today, I would want those in my life to know how much they mean to me and how much I love them.
Perhaps the best way to prepare for unexpected tragedy is by placing your life -- your future -- in the hands of the Lord. When my father was still alive he used to say, "I'm not really ready to die today, but I am prepared to die today."
What my father meant was that he had things he still wanted to accomplish in his life. However, if his life ended, he had repented of his sins and trusted Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation. As a result, he was prepared for his life to end at any moment and on any day.
When my father's earthly pilgrimage came to its conclusion on the evening of June 29, 2006, I know he was not ready to say "see you later" to his family and friends, but he was prepared.
The terrorist bombings in Boston and the fertilizer plant explosion are stark reminders that there is no such thing as absolute safety and security. If evil does unexpectedly rear its ugly head in our lives, we can be prepared by praying, communicating our love to family and by trusting Christ with our lives. In so doing we can live life to the full and honor the Lord.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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