I was sitting in front of our upstairs TV, firmly squished against the shoulder of my husband while my son pranced around in a onesie. We were watching The Incredibles for the 87th time. During a lull in the movie, I grabbed my all-too handy iPhone and checked Twitter for a quick moment, where CNN alerted me that the President was going to give a speech at 10:30pm EST. This seemed strange, so late at night. I did some digging… it turned out that it was a speech on a matter of national security.
And in case you were wondering, breaking news does not stop the need for consistency in a toddler’s routine, so we made our way to the bathroom and got the little guy in the tub. While he splashed and played, I sat on the counter with my husband and I filled him in on what was happening.
Within the next ten minutes, a multitude of news agencies began releasing statements, all claiming the same shocking news:
Osama Bin Laden is dead.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Or think. Or do. I simply said it out loud to my husband. “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Words I wasn’t sure would ever come out of my mouth in my lifetime, to be honest. We both stood quietly shocked. We waited for President Obama to come to the podium for the next few minutes, but it stood empty on my phone’s small screen.
While my boy came out of the bath and got dried off, Twitter and Facebook lit up, blew up and sped so quickly, I couldn’t keep up. Everyone was sharing the news and it didn’t take long for everyone to share their opinions and feelings on the matter… which was expected. We all lost so much on September 11, 2001… so much changed.
And then, I saw a tweet from a woman who I know follows Jesus, who simply stated “I’M SO HAPPY THAT BASTARD IS DEAD!”
That’s when I paused, my heart pumped fast and strong. My skin got the familiar tingle of unease.
Osama Bin Laden orchestrated unspeakable acts of violence, terror and death. He was an enemy of the state, an enemy of peace, and a man who sold out to a misconstrued theology of the teachings of the Holy Quran.
He was also a human that was created by God. The same God that created me. You. My little boy getting dried off with the towel that has a hood that looks like a shark. Whether you agree or not, I believe Osama Bin Laden had a soul. And I believe that soul did not believe in Jesus Christ and now I believe that soul is eternally separated from the loving, sovereign God that I worship.
After my son was warmly clothed in fleece footie pajamas and resting in the arms of my husband reading his bedtime stories, I made my way downstairs to the computer. The President’s podium was till empty, but my Twitter and Facebook feeds were quite full. Almost entirely of celebratory remarks, proclaiming happiness for his death, for justice being served.
My heart felt heavy. My heart still feels heavy.
What, as believers and followers of Christ, should be our posture when something like this happens?
A few verses come to mind.
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Proverbs 11:10
When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Proverbs 21:15
But then I read these:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezekiel 18:23
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:38-39
So, what is proper? What is appropriate? What is our response? Do we rejoice in the perish of wicked?
I believe that God delights in true, righteous justice. As Christians, is the finality of death a kind of justice that we should celebrate? Thousands died at the hand of Osama Bin Laden. Is an eye for an eye the correct response? Does that please God?
Does death at the hand of another human rob the opportunity for redemption?
Was Osama Bin Laden beyond redemption? Is that even our decision to make?
All of these questions should form our response as believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
I have my opinions, but I have my convictions, too.
I believe we should have a posture, ultimately, of prayer. May our faces be pushed downward into the floor, laid prostrate out before a most Holy and sovereign God.
I believe we should have a posture of humility, with the understanding that there is only one true Judge who offers fair and sovereign judgment, and we are not Him.
I believe we should have a posture of nonviolence. Period.
I don’t know about you, but moments like these force this prayer from my lips: Lord, hasten the day.