Just after the first Boston Marathon bomb went off there were three yellow balloons that floated off into the air. It was a reminder of celebration in the midst of tragedy. In fact, tragedy isn’t the word for it. Brutality? Terror? Calamity? Catastrophe?
But those balloons. They reminded me of the miracle of Jesus’ ascension. When He ascended, He didn’t go away. He transformed His presence so that now He was not limited to time and space. As a result of His ascension He was now able to be present everywhere, all the time.
That means He was present, too, at the site of the bombing in Boston. C.S. Lewis once said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”
People went to the finish line of the Boston Marathon to celebrate the incredible achievement of someone near and dear. Instead, Satan counter-claimed ground that rightly belongs to God the Creator, and terror rained down as people were badly injured and even lost their lives.
But God counter-claimed it once again as people went running to help. It was counter-claimed as first responders risked their lives, as strangers cared, as doctors and nurses attended, as people prayed, sought the Lord, and found His peace.
God counter-claimed it all, not as people asked, “Why?” He counter-claimed it as people asked, “Where?” “Where is God in all of this.” He counter-claimed it as people remembered or were reminded that God did not even spare His own Son, but gave Him up as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
In the midst of the worst evil the world can know, God is present. We know that He is because He was present on the cross of Good Friday to redeem the world from all sin and from all evil.
God is present even where evil seems to reign. He is there to forgive, to redeem, to bring peace, to show love, and to save.
Three yellow balloons floating away from the explosion reminded me that the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is present for His people.
He never leaves us or forsakes us.
He is with us always.
If we can celebrate nothing else in the midst of tragedy, we celebrate our ascended, present, peace-giving Lord. He loves, forgives, and saves.
Where do you see God in the midst of tragedy?