Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me. Psalm 40:11-13
It was one year ago today that the Boston Marathon reached a horrifying and premature conclusion. When the bombs went off, I was right there with you in my response: “Who would do such a thing?” “How could anyone just kill and maim innocent people like that?” With those questions and so many others like them, we begin trying to re-order our world by categorizing the good people and the bad people. It brings us some comfort. It is how we deal with otherwise “inexplicable evil”. We find some solace in drawing those distinctions and in placing ourselves on one side and “those kinds of people” on the other side. Honestly, it helps us sleep at night, doesn’t it? We feel better about ourselves and about our world when we can identify evil, point it out as clearly “other” than us, and come to terms with the comforting reality that we are, in fact, better than those kinds of people.
Scripture does not paint a picture of a world divided. If we go to our Bibles and read the stories of our heroes and heroines and hope to be able to place David and Joseph and Moses and Peter and Paul and you and me all on the side of “good”, and then place the murderers and adulterers and rapists and terrorists all on the side of “evil”, we …