Forgiving the Boston Bombing Suspects
By Tom Buehring
The 700 Club
CBN.com- When Boston’s marathon began in Hopkinton, runners were on their mark. They would soon chase a great distance that would feel as deep as it ran long.
Rob Davis, Boston Marathon participant and Pastor: “The day started with a tremendous amount of anticipation and excitement. You’ve been training for 6 months, 6 days a week.”
Sajjan Sharma, Boston Marathon participant and Pastor: “Went out to the site and started running the race. It was a beautiful day! It was a gorgeous day. And everybody was in great spirits.”
Down the road, Fenway Park was packed! Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a home run and his Red Sox rallied for a win. “We just finished the game, and we were in the clubhouse, got on the bus, and one of the guys said, ‘There was a bomb at the finish line of the marathon. And then there was another one.’”
Rob Davis had just finished the 26-mile race. He was exhausted. He toweled off and ate, then waited to cheer on a friend near the finish line. After hearing the first blast, he was caught 20 feet from the second explosion.
Rob: “The bomb went off right in front of us. People are screaming. We’ve gone from a beautiful day in Boston to a war zone instantaneously. And I’m looking just across the street at a guy sitting in his chair with his legs blown off. I looked down at my feet and the bone of his leg are at my feet.”
“At the same time, there’s a girl that’s on fire and she’s running towards me. And a police officer grabs her and starts patting down her hair. This girl is shell shocked, freezing, and naked on Boylston Street. I started shaking. Now, I’m shaking again. You go back into this…You’ve got the smell of the gunpowder. You’ve got blood everywhere. You’ve got people screaming hysterically. And I’m looking at this, and I’m thinking, ‘God, how am I going to get to the point where I can forgive?’”
It’s a question that still lingers. Challenging many; including some of those who visit the recently restored sidewalk along the Boylston bombing sites.
Tom Buehring, 700 Club reporter: “The famed marathon of determination and achievement, quickly changed, catching all of us flatfooted. It moved to a much different race, one with hurdles; hurdles of fear and forgiveness.”
Jeanna Radzinski, a Boston University grad student says, “I can’t at all forgive the two of them or anyone else who was involved. I don’t think any motive or any reasoning behind any action they had planned – is ever forgivable.”
Tony DiRiggi, a Boston resident: “These guys had deliberate intentions to maliciously hurt people. I think everybody can forgive things that happen but something like that - I personally just don’t feel there’s any room for forgiveness there.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox Catcher: “Yeah, I want to get angry. Yeah, I want to do some hurtful things, but why? My ultimate goal, my ultimate life is for Him and that’s not His way. He wants me to forgive, so I’m going to forgive, because I’ll lay my life down for Him.”
Sajjan Sharma was five miles away from the blasts at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. That’s as far as he got. Police stopped him and other runners as ambulances raced by. As a pastor and counselor, he’s encouraging those who can’t see past injustice.
Sajjan: “What I share with people is that’s a bad place to remain. Resentment and bitterness becomes a place of comfort. It becomes a place where we like to stay. And like many have said, ‘It becomes our own prison.’ And we cannot escape and we cannot get beyond.”
America’s most beloved ballpark became a sanctuary of support and strength as the Red Sox helped brand the call for Boston to Be Strong. Jarrod’s last name, the longest in major league history, provides him with a reminder.
Jarrod: “Saltalamacchia: it means to jump over a thicket. It’s pretty cool. Because constantly that’s what we’re doing is we’re jumping over something. We all come to a gap in the road in our lives that we need to get over. For me that’s been a big thing where I don’t want to cut my Christianity short. I don’t want to cut my relationship with God short and cut corners. And I want to - just be all in, just be all in for Him. And then I won’t ever have to worry about that gap in the road. I’ll always have Him to help me get over it.”
Sajjan: “This is where I believe our faith is so essential. If we look at Jesus, there’s no one who’s been wronged like Him in the same way. Yet, He looks down at those who hurt Him and He’s able to release. He’s able to let go. His example helps us and guides us through the mine field of emotions that we go through.”
Rob lives in Hopkinton, not far from the marathon’s starting line. He’s a fixture in the community as a runner and pastor. He’s helping others process through their grief and anger, while testing the mettle of his own faith.
Rob: “God is telling us we have to forgive. It’s really for our benefit. As I was able to say, ‘Look, I can forgive this person.’ There’s like a weight comes off my shoulders. There’s a sense of freedom that I get.”
“We have access to resurrection power in the midst of daily events. You need to love your enemy. We have to wrestle with what Christ is telling us He wants us to do. It’s not an optional thing. And a challenge to say, ‘Can I really walk this out? Can I do what Jesus did?’ When He’s on the cross He says something which is so bizarre, ‘Father, forgive them. They do not know what they’ve done.’”
Tom: “Has your Christianity been tested?”
Jarrod: “Without a doubt; 100 percent. There’s so much emotion built up through this whole ordeal. Just think about more than just yourself. Stop being selfish for that moment, and what it truly means to be a Christian and that’s what everybody sees.”
Sajjan: “When evil comes at us – our response, the power in our lives, comes by being able to repay that evil, and really undo that evil – with blessing, with courage. And that’s where I think we can overcome the fear. And that’s where I believe we can overcome bitterness.”
Tom: “How do you process releasing forgiveness?”
Jarrod: “Going to these hospitals and seeing (the victims), I talked to a gentleman who was there with his 4 year-old son. That’s when the second bomb went off, and that’s when he realized that his leg had been blown off basically. And the first thing he did was grab his son and just protect him. He called an officer over and told the officer, ‘Just take my son and protect him. Keep him safe. Put him wherever you’re going to put him.’ I look at that and I say that’s what Jesus does to us. He takes us and protects us.”
“Are we a people of faith or not? Is God who God says He is? Will God do what God promises to do? And to say, ‘We don’t control this universe. We don’t control these things, but Jesus does and can.’ We say, ‘It’s not our strength, it’s God who protects us if we will allow Him and depend on Him.’ That’s not passive. That’s faith.”
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