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Rev. Ian Punnett Headshot

An Angry Prayer When Nothing Makes Sense

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"We are heartbroken at the death of our daughter, Krystle Marie," Patty Campbell, mother of a Boston Marathon bombing victim, said on Tuesday. "She was a wonderful person, and everybody that knew her loved her . . . she had a heart of gold . . . This doesn't make any sense."

And of course, it doesn't. Regardless of the motives or the madness of the brothers accused of perpetrating the roadside bombs of Boylson Street, two truths remain: All the victims were indisputably innocent and the act was undeniably evil.

Psychiatrist and author of "People of the Lie," the late M. Scott Peck, was convinced that evil really does exist in the world and that the number one enemy of "evil" is "good." At every opportunity, Dr. Peck believed, evil seeks to disorder good and turn it into chaos. Wherever there is peace, wherever there is hope, wherever there is harmony, evil will bring conflict and discord.

"As has been described of the devil in religious literature," Dr. Peck wrote, evildoers "hate the light and instinctively will do anything to avoid it, including attempting to extinguish the light."

In talking about the evil that some men do, Dr. Peck could have been describing the accused Boston bomber brothers, a disturbed killer like Newtown Elementary's Adam Lanza or Aurora, CO's James "The Joker" Holmes when he wrote, "(Evil people) hate goodness because it reveals their badness; they hate love because it reveals their laziness."

Admittedly, we don't know yet what triggered the murderous rage of whomever is responsible for the Boston Marathon massacre but it almost doesn't matter. There is no catalyst sufficient for this hatefulness. Whenever the good suffer at the hands of the evil, there is no justice.

"You couldn't ask for a better daughter," Patty Campbell told those gathered at her porch, "I can't believe this is happening" -- a sentiment I have heard countless times during my years in ministry.

As a deacon in the Episcopal Church and a former chaplain intern, I have encountered disbelief in the face of tragedy as a consistent challenge to the faithful. Being with people as they try to process events in their lives and in the news resulted in "How to Pray When You're Pissed at God." In cases similar to the Boston bombing -- or, for that matter, the deadly fire and explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, TX -- sometimes it is anger toward God or anger with others that ends in resentment and frustration with God that can lead to disconnection with the Divine just when we crave that connection the most. Learning to pray through our anger, instead of around it, can heal.

Do any of the victims of the Boston bombing or the explosion in West, TX feel as though they have been abandoned by God? I hope not. I believe that God stands with all victims.

But if were asked today to help put somebody pain's to a prayer, this is what I would write:

An Angry Prayer When Nothing Makes Sense

Where were you at the finish line, O Lord?
Where was your loving protection from the explosions for all your children?
Through you we fight those who seek our destruction
and fire pain around the world.
We cannot do it alone though.
Our hearts are hurting for the innocents:
The children with toothy smiles, the cheery bystanders,
the brave first responders walking into hell.
With their deaths, you are killing us with grief;
Why do you allow terrorists to kill our boys and girls
who had so much promise and loved you their whole lives?
Murderers wrap themselves in your name--
fiery explosions destroy our most precious treasures--our loved ones, our hope.
Yet you did not stop them! Why have you allowed evil to crush us?
Roadside bombs have brought us down to the dust;
we are clothed in the ashes of a week that burns.
As the bodies pile up on us, we are covered in darkness. The pain is too great.

Awake, Lord! How can you sleep when evil lurks?
Do not hide your face and ignore our misery.
Protect those that haven't even grown out of their first communion suits!
Love those that died before they could live out their dreams.
Shield those who attempt to shield us.
For us to be God's people, you must be God.
Be here now, O Lord, because this doesn't make any sense.

Around the Web

Prayer to Release Anger | Revived Life Christian Blog

Angry Prayers (Parental Advisory: Explicit Language) | The Jesuit Post

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