On Saturday, November 8th, 2008 my world blew apart – literally. I was carrying a package I thought was a gift when it exploded in my hands.
It was moving day. We had sold our townhouse and were excited about moving into a larger home for our two young daughters to enjoy. As I stepped out of my back door to do a final sweep of the backyard, I was surprised to discover a gift sitting on our doorstep. “How nice,” I thought. “One of our neighbors has left us a going away present.”
Suddenly, the brightly colored package violently exploded in my hands.
Stunned, gasping for air, in excruciating pain, I laid on the floor trying to stop the blood that was gushing from my face. I was rushed to hospital and went through multiple surgeries in an attempt to repair my lacerated liver, shattered sinus, cracked jaw as well as the shrapnel wounds to my face, arm and abdomen. Even with the successful surgeries, however, my body will never be the same.
The day I was released from the hospital, my wife and I returned to the scene of the crime where I saw the damage first hand. The blast had blown large holes through the walls, the ceiling, and even the cement floor. Shrapnel even blew through the neighbor’s window across the street. The police stated that the bomb “was built to kill.”
The entire experience sent my family and our community into absolute chaos. Our story quickly became front page news across the country. “Why would someone attack an innocent family like ours?” A year after the incident, the police publicly announced that the bomb was not meant for me, or my family. However, the questions of “Who?” and “Why?” still remain unanswered.
When something goes wrong, I think the first thing most of us ask is ‘Why?’ We all have a deep intrinsic craving for justice, to see wrongs made right, to see a deserved punishment given. And when you experience pain first hand, justice takes on an even deeper meaning.
I’ve been asked many times what I would say to the bomber if I ever met them, and my response is pretty simple. Even though I was seriously injured and will have to live with pain everyday for the rest of my life, I don’t hold bitterness in my heart towards the bomber. I actually feel compassion for them. Soon after the blast I came to the conclusion that whoever took the time to build and deliver such a deliberate, volatile,and destructive device must be a tormented soul, filled with hate. I could hate them back, but someone has shown me a different way.
As a follower of Jesus, I take great comfort in how he handled injustice. Jesus consistently modeled a life of love and forgiveness. He taught us to love our neighbors and our enemies. His actions spoke even louder than his words when, after his unjust trial, moments before his horrible death of crucifixion, he asked his Father in heaven to forgive his murderers saying, “Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus paid the price that injustice, throughout history, has cost.
Long before the bomb, I came to a personal understanding of what Jesus’ suffering did for me. This understanding transformed not only my heart, but my entire outlook on life. Even though I am imperfect and constantly letting God down, even though I am just as capable of hate as the people that attacked me, His death and resurrection brings me hope for ultimate justice. It is only through experiencing God’s unconditional love and forgiveness in my own life that I am able to extend mercy to the bomber who almost destroyed my life and my family.
Don’t get me wrong, I hope that the bomber is caught and tried to the full extent of the law, but even if not, I know that God is just and that justice will prevail because God took immeasurable injustice upon himself, way more than I’ve ever experienced, so that through Jesus, we can experience freedom from the brokenness and anger that happens in retaliation.
I really believe that the only way we are going to see an end to violence in our world today, and experience community in the way God has created, is to live a life of unconditional love as Jesus did. The only way I know how to love like Jesus is through my relationship with Him. Each day I allow the only One who loves perfectly and acts justly to help me live out what love and justice really are.