FIRST-PERSON: America the resolute

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Another act of violence shook our nation this week. This time, the perpetrator used bombs hidden in bags. To intensify the effect of his hatred, he loaded his bombs with ball bearings and other metal objects. The effect was devastating. Lives were lost, including an 8-year-old boy. More than a hundred people were injured, many maimed. It was a cowardly, gruesome act.

The response of others at the Boston Marathon tells another story, however. Reports are still coming out of those who rushed to help. I have heard stories of people who finished the grueling marathon and yet immediately went about the task of caring for others. There are pictures of complete strangers stooping over injured people, trying to do whatever they can to stop bleeding and render comfort.

The police and first-responders acted with a calm professionalism that should instill a true sense of pride in our nation even in the most cynical of people. They weren't anticipating any problems that day, but they were ready. In a matter of minutes order was restored.

My heart aches for those who died and for those whose lives have been forever changed through this horrific act. I pray that God will bring comfort and peace to everyone. I pray that those who feel they can never recover will find the peace and spiritual strength through Jesus Christ that will not only sustain them but lift them up. I pray those who did this will be convicted by God of their horrific sin, repent, turn themselves in, and accept the penalty for their acts. One way or another, I pray that law enforcement will bring them to justice.

Yes, I want justice, healing and peace. I also want Americans to see themselves for who they really are. Immediately after the bombings, there was a national shudder in response. Social media was filled with expressions of grief, sadness and prayer. We have witnessed too much violence recently, yet we remain resolute in our commitment to each other.

Scripture reminds us that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Such a friend, it also reminds us, is hard to find. Our nation has once again proven that when our fellow citizens are in danger, the decency and compassion that flows through our national veins will compel us to come to their aid.

Perhaps today you feel abandoned and desperate. There is help. Start with God. He has proven His love for you by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you so you can have peace and the forgiveness of your sins. Call on Him. He is there. I also encourage you to turn to someone for help. There are good, well-meaning people all around you in this nation of compassionate people. If you don't know where to start, find a Southern Baptist church in the phone book. Call them. They won't judge you, and they very likely will be able to help.

My friends, all is not lost. There is a God in heaven, and this is a nation full of kind-hearted people. Flawed, sinful, yes, but ready to drop everything and rush into harm's way. A nation that demonstrated once again its resolve to care for its own can rise above any danger. May God help us bring that same resolve to every pocket of poverty, brokenness, despair, sorrow and desperation. May He help us band together and forge our way forward through all of our current problems to a higher ground for His glory and for our better future together. With God's help, we can. May God bless America.


Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).