I tossed and turned Monday night after the Boston marathon bombing trying to make sense of such tragedy; waking with a dull headache. I was married in Boston and lived on Boylston Street steps from where the bombings occurred. It felt very personal to me. Wednesday night I watched incredible video of the plant explosion in West, TX like it was part of an action adventure movie praying that everyone had evacuated and would emerge unscathed. I woke Thursday morning feeling drained from the events of the week.
I know that Biblical scholars believe that evil exists because man was given free will to choose between good and evil when God turned Adam and Eve out from the Garden of Eden. I believe that evil acts and natural disasters provide opportunities for goodness to emerge and spread the love and joy of God. My minister chose to use a hymn, “This is My Father’s World” to remind us, “…though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet”. As so many of us did, I spent much of the week of the marathon bombing and plant explosion thinking about and lifting up the victims, the volunteers, the doctors, and the first responders in prayer. The selflessness of the volunteers at both of these events represents the pure love God hopes we share with each other.
The outpouring of support for the victims of both events has been amazing and the needs are great. When I learned that the firefighters were volunteers, I knew this is where I wanted our gift to go. I’ve lived in communities where the firefighters were volunteers. I’ve seen their spirit and their sacrifice. My home caught fire years ago. Volunteer firefighters literally came from everywhere to help. They were my teachers, friend’s parents, neighbors, businessmen, and students. They trained, bought their own equipment, and responded without fail to every fire and accident in our community leaving jobs, beds, family events, and dinner tables to do so.
The profiles of the firefighters in West, TX were no different than those in my community years ago. Eleven volunteer first responders lost their lives in the explosion. Among them, young parents, two brothers, the City Secretary of West, a restaurant server, an engineer, the owner of the local welding company, an expectant father, an EMT, two young men studying to become EMS workers, and an off duty Dallas firefighter who came to help when he heard the fire call. These were friends and neighbors who came and tried to help. All the fire-fighting equipment was lost to the explosion as well. I donated our money to the West, TX Fund established by the NFFA (National Fallen Firefighters Association) to support families of the fallen firefighters and to purchase equipment to restore the West, TX Volunteer Fire Department. The volunteer firefighters of West, TX surely exemplify the sacrificial love and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 10: 27
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”