Blog - Doing Earthwork
Where Was God in Boston?Tuesday, April 23, 2013
"Where was God in Boston?” I googled those words—in parentheses for exact matches. In a split second I got more than 4,500 results. One Christ-follower wrote: "God really has done something about this. And his ‘something’ looks like a cross. It looks like an empty tomb. It looks like Jesus.”
I agree. God also showed his care through the spontaneous, wageless work of countless bystanders and marathon runners who rushed to the aid of the victims. Through the paramedics, ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who cared for the wounded and dying.
But also through the work of a host of government employees. Sean Lengell of The Washington Times quoted Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis as calling the cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies "flawless.” Within mere days, their work had traced leads to two brothers. One is dead, the other wounded and in a hospital.
According to Romans 13, the God-assigned work of these government agents is to terrorize terrorists. Verse 3: "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” Police, state troopers, and FBI agents do the work of God. Verse 4: "He [the one in authority] is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
In this case, God’s governmental "servant” included all kinds of people laboring side-by-side—Christians, those from various religions, agnostics, and atheists. But this should come as no surprise. God called the pagan ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, "my servant” (Jer. 25:9; 27:6), and Cyrus, "my shepherd” and "my anointed” (Is. 44:28; 45:1). God worked, even through their work.
If Martin Luther had been around to follow the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, he would probably have called the various kinds of work done by law enforcement officials the "masks” of God. In his "Exposition of Psalm 147,” Luther wrote: "All our work in the field, in the garden, in the city, in the home, in struggle, in government—to what does it all amount before God except child's play, by means of which God is pleased to give his gifts in the field, at home, and everywhere? These are the masks of our Lord God, behind which he wants to be hidden and to do all things.”
We are to pray for "all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Tim. 2:2). Because God was working through the work of these government employees, the people of the greater Boston area can once again sleep at night. Peace has returned to that community. In a world where evil still crouches and prowls, we can thank God for assigning to government the work of counter-terrorism.
Why is our ability to live in peace and quiet so important to God? Because he "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). When a community is cowering in fear, with people afraid to venture outside their bolted doors, it works against their coming to a knowledge of gospel truth. It distracts attention from those who are displaying what it means to "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Was God at work there in Boston? Yes. But to recognize him took looking behind his masks—behind those human beings on the job carrying out his work.