By Amy Hauptman

Reflections on the Boston Marathon Tragedy

The place where your running shoes meet the road is a sacred space. And on Monday, that sacred space was tarnished. When news hit of explosions, deaths, and over a hundred injuries at the Boston Marathon, I think most of us were asking, “What just happened?”

Shock. Disbelief. Confusion. Sadness. Anger.

I’ve run a couple half-marathons, and my heart goes out to the community of runners and to the citizens of Boston. While I am not a naturally gifted runner, what I’ve learned over time about the running community is this: everyone is welcome, everyone is treated as a friend and equal, and everyone is “in it together” as they share a common goal.

Even if you never run a marathon, no matter who you are or where you come from, you can put on a pair of running shoes, hit the pavement, and become part of the running community.

When Tragedy Tears at Our Hearts  

Having found friendship and inspiration from fellow runners, I’m heartbroken that destruction and murder were unleashed at Monday’s finish line—the very place where great accomplishment was to be celebrated.

As Christians, how are we to respond to this and other tragedies?

First, I am immediately reminded of how extremely broken our world is—and how much God grieves over every inch of the brokenness.

But I am also reminded that Monday’s events represent a greater problem that we all need to take responsibility for: how our sin has damaged the world, and how far we’ve walked away from God, his original intention for this world, and his heart.

You and I might not have created and detonated literal bombs, but according to Jesus’ teaching, if we carry hatred in our hearts, we too are guilty of committing senseless murder against one another through our words, actions, and thoughts. This grieves God’s heart just as much as the Boston Marathon tragedy. He longs for us all to live according to how he originally intended.

The Truth That Transcends Tragedy

In the midst of all this, though, there is good news—truth that we can press into over and over again. God is the perfect judge who seeks justice on behalf of his creation, including us, even though we don’t deserve it. He sent Jesus Christ to this world to lead us back into the sacred way of living that we were created for.

It’s no wonder that the Bible uses the analogy of a runner to teach us how we’re supposed to live our lives as Christians:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

If Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life—the only one who has ever run the human race perfectly—then we must follow in his footsteps. And he still wants to show us how to run this sacred race. He knows that we are not naturally gifted at running, and he knows that we cannot run this race on our own but need his guidance and help.

As you and I continue to wrestle with God over the brokenness of our world, let’s not turn our hearts toward anger that stems from hate or revenge. Let’s find ways to honor the lives and memories of those who were killed, help those who were injured, and care for those who are hurting.

And as we do so, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, let us not grow weary, and let us not lose heart.

Amy Hauptman is a writer on InterVarsity’s communications team. She is a former campus staff worker at UC Davis, the University of Nevada–Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College. The three driving forces in her life, besides her love for coffee, are to see, learn, and enjoy as much as possible. She also blogs at

You might also find these posts helpful as you grieve:

The Death That Comes Before Resurrection

The Beauty of Lament

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