One week after the tragedy in Boston, most of us have returned to life as usual. Life before this latest horror descended. We’ve been there before, all too frequently. Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Newtown. Each time, it takes a little longer to bounce back. A little more vigor is knocked out of us. The violence alters us; still, we try to stiffen our upper lip and carry on. We must.
But life will never be the same for those who lost personally. Those who lost children or legs, joy or innocence. The word “loss” is far too puny to describe what happened, as though something was carelessly misplaced. Survivors will struggle to find a new normal, a life that will be forever marked by what was taken so violently.
The rest of us move on. It’s not because we don’t care. The way Americans reach out to help is one of the best things about us as a country. But we have a limit to the amount of sorrow we can take on. And we become a little more de-sensitized each time.
When I lived in Cluj, Romania, I witnessed a city still able to be shocked. The Communist regime was so heavy-handed that people lived in fear of what would happen if they ever broke any law. The government murdered scores of people but average citizens were afraid to have typewriters.
In the early 90s, a taxi driver was murdered late at night in his cab. The entire city shut down. Every store and business closed; black wreaths hung on their doors. No one could believe something like that could happen. Throngs lined the streets to watch the procession to the hilltop cemetery. The car following the hearse held the widow and children. After them, every taxi in the city plodded up the hill, in solidarity with their fallen colleague. As soon as the cars passed, people on foot crowded into the street to follow.
I want to feel that degree of shock every time I read in the paper that another murder took place. But I don’t. I can’t. I’m not made to carry all of that, all the time.
There is One who can. One who wants to. Who reaches down to lift it off our shoulders. The heartache and suffering Jesus bears for us is limitless. And His mercy and grace never runs out.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16