Responding to the Death of Bin Laden

I have seen a huge out pouring of celebration and joy from countless people across Facebook, Twitter, and outside the White House on the news. It rivals the cheering for a Super Bowl or World Series victory celebration. Something about this carnival like atmosphere gives me a certain discomfort and leaves me puzzled.

There are two reasons for my reaction. The first is, I wonder what the response is of the family members of the 2,977 people who were killed by Bin Laden’s followers. I just don’t picture them dancing in celebration and toasting with free beers on the house. The death of Bin Laden is sure to bring back the pain and loss that his heinous actions forced on people. I suspect that for many if not most of those surviving family members, there is a satisfaction, a sense of finality. There is certainly a feeling of a weight being lifted. But joyous, raucous celebration simply doesn’t fit when you have lost a loved one to a murderer. You can’t rejoice. You can give thanks. You take a deep breath. You whisper to those you lost, “rest in peace, we never forgot you. We miss you. We love you.”

My second thought goes to the Lord. How does God want me to react to the death of Bin Laden? I am reminded of Proverbs 24:17-18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him. I find those words to be about as disconcerting as anything God has said. Part of me wants to rejoice and celebrate. But I have to ask, why does God not want me to rejoice and celebrate when my enemy stumbles and falls? I think that in part is has to do with guarding my heart. To celebrate the fall of my enemy is to put myself in a place where my pride and arrogance can easily overtake me. I must never forget that I was God’s enemy before coming to faith in Christ. Instead of rejoicing over my stumbling and fallen sinfulness, God went to the Cross through Jesus Christ and died for me. God did not rejoice over my fall, but instead suffered on my behalf.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that justice has been served. I find a certain peace and satisfaction that Bin Laden is dead. But you will not find me out cheering and celebrating and dancing. Instead, I think I will be praying for the families who lost those they love that they may find some measure of peace.