Grieving and Gratitude: How to Biblically process the death of Osama bin Laden.

With all the emotions flying over last night’s news regarding the death of Osama bin Laden, it’s important for us as believers to think through our reactions to this news.    Below is an excerpt from Justin Taylor’s blog, that emphasizes how we should respond with both gratitude and grief.   Grief, because two days ago on a bright, Pakistani morning, another soul entered Hell and will spend an eternity apart from Christ.  This is saddening and should burden our hearts for the lostness of even the most depraved men.  Gratitude, in knowing that even in a person spending eternity in Hell, God’ s wrath and justices is satisfied and He will receive the glory He is due whether a person loves Him with all their heart, soul and mind or whether they live in defiance against him and die in their sins.  Regardless, God will be glorified.  

Here is Taylor’s post:

Doubtless there will be much commentary in days ahead about the appropriate Christian response to the death of Osama bin Laden.

I think it’s appropriate for Christians to intermingle grieving and gratitude.

Grief for a life made in the image of God but so destructive of human life and so dishonoring to God.

And gratitude for justice being served as an instrument of God’s wrath.

If it’s true that “God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend,” it should be no surprise that his followers would reflect some of that complexity as well. After all, we are the people who are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”

A couple of early pieces that point to this tension in the Christian life:

Update: Thanks to a commenter below for highlighting this 2002 quote by D. A. Carson on bin Laden:

He is an evil man, and he must be stopped, but he is a man, and we should take no pleasure in destroying him. Vengeance is the Lord’s alone.

Do not offer the alternative, “Should we weep for Osama bin Laden or hold him to account for his genocide and prevent him from carrying out his violent intentions?”

The right answer is yes.

Love in Hard Places (Crossway, 2002), 143.

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live?” – Ez. 18:23

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”  – II Thess 1:8-9


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