Just read an e-mail from my cousin, Tom Cook, telling his Boston Marathon story. He and the group he had traveled with needed a plan to find each other after the race. They decided they would meet at the Starbucks on Boylston Street. That was not a good plan. As it turned out, the Starbucks on Boylston was where the second of the two bombs was detonated. Tom told the story of how through a series of unexpected (and at the time frustrating) circumstances, their plan fell apart so they were not standing together in one of the two worst of all places to be standing in Boston last Monday afternoon.
I say a prayer thanking God for protecting my cousin Tom, and my good friend David Barrett, who also has a story to tell about how he and his wife narrowly missed being in the wrong place at the wrong time on that marathon day. I do believe our loving God watches over us and protects us, sometimes even protects us from our own foolishness. I pray each day that God will protect each member of my family and keep them safe.
Of course, if you think this one through you realize you have to be careful thanking God for sparing your life or the lives of certain people who are important to you. Because God must surely love those who weren’t spared just as much. I cannot imagine our God operating like a master puppeteer moving people around with invisible strings so the people I know and love were safe on that tragic day but not worrying about Lingli Lu, Krystal Campbell, Martin Richard, or the many who survived but with life altering injuries. And no, I would not be among those who would say “God must have had a reason” for all that heartache. Sometimes terrible things just happen and it’s dumb luck rather than divine providence that determines how things play out.
It always amazes me though the good that does come out of bad. Those who helped the injured and consoled the families of the dying. A police response that had the crime solved within four days. The renewed thankfulness for life we’re all feeling these days. And the resolve to never surrender to those who glorify death. The prayers we have been praying this week, sometimes not real sure just what to pray, but knowing for sure how much we need God. And even e-mails like the one from my cousin and good friend Tom, who I haven’t been in touch with since last summer when he punished me through a brutal 10 miles on one of God’s most beautiful mornings ever along the Willamette River in Portland. I’m so glad to hear from him and know that, however God may have been involved, he’s OK and he’ll get to punish his much older cousin once again!