It has been nine-and-a-half years since I heard my bride of just nine months gasp out in horror from the living room as I shaved in the bathroom. We were getting ready to go in for physicals. She had not had one in a couple of years, and I needed one because I was going to go back into the military as a chaplain. Little did we know that the plans of a Saudi man would come to fruition that day, and many people would die in the Twin Towers, in the planes, at the Pentagon, and on a piece of farmland out in Pennsylvania. And how the world changed at that moment. I don’t think I will ever forget running in to see my wife, hand covering her mouth, and seeing one of the towers in flames.
Another moment that I will likely remember as long as my brain is functioning is stepping out of my house after an incredibly restful vacation, picking up the morning paper, and opening it to read that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I have been so “unplugged” of late after Easter that I had not been on the computer or checked my phone for any news. I missed the presidential address and the resulting celebrations. But it is all being re-covered copiously by all news outlets this morning, so I don’t feel at any loss for finding out later than most.
What am I feeling this morning? Relief. I am relieved that a man who concocted a great crime is not going to be able to perpetuate a false myth that you can get away with mass murder. I also know that many have spent countless hours hunting this man, and they can feel a sense of accomplishment. All the time and effort has not been in vain.
That said, I do not join in jubilant celebration. That is not what I feel on this day. A friend posted on Facebook this morning.:
Proverb 24:17-20 “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him. Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked; for there will be no prospect for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!”
And these are quotes from the Hebrew Bible, which don’t even delve into Jesus’ teachings on how we should approach the enemy.
I also think of Gandalf’s quote in Fellowship of the Ring (penned by J.R.R. Tolkien, a Christian): “Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
I do think we need to keep things in perspective. Did Al Capone’s death stop the mafia? Did Lenin’s or Stalin’s death stop communism? Did Timothy McVeigh’s death stop home-grown terrorism? Bin Laden’s death is not going to resolve Islamic fanaticism. And if anything, it was probably the death Bin Laden himself most desired. And I somehow think nine-and-a-half years from now terrorism will still be in the news and in our discussions. Bin Laden’s death hasn’t stopped any of that. Nevertheless, I view Bin Laden’s death much as I view the death of a man who has drawn a gun on a police officer. It is not a good solution, but it will continue to be the choices we make until our fallen world follows the rule of Christ.
Let us continue to pray for our troops and give thanks for their diligence. We have many heroes, and heroines, whose names we will never know. Let us pray for Christians in Asia. And let us pray for the day when war will be no more.
Until next time,