Last night, our military forces were the victors in a ten year search for an evil man. I am sure that all of you know by now that Osama bin Laden is dead. At first, I was incredulous, then relieved, then elated, and then uneasy. I got online and read the responses of my friends as they learned of the success of our military. As the evening went on, I settled down and went to sleep.
However, when I woke up this morning, my uneasiness remained. I wrote it off as worry about retaliation by our enemies. With my husband in the Navy Reserve, many of his colleagues either are or have been on deployment overseas. In addition, we have several friends and family members who serve in the military, and the death of bin Laden certainly puts them at risk. I was sure that this was the cause of my increasing apprehension.
It was not until I read a post from an old friend that I pinpointed my discontent. I have not had occasion to spend time with this friend since high school, but as is often the case, I kept up with him on Facebook. He consistently has a heart for the Lord, and I am often surprised and convicted by his thoughtful posts. This post was no exception. He came up with a particular Bible verse which I hadn’t thought of in a while, but which brought my vague anxiety into sharp focus.
“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” -Ezekiel 18:23
Can I, in good conscience as a Christian woman, rejoice in the death and subsequent judgment of an unsaved person? No matter how evil he was, can I be righteous in happiness at another’s eternal demise?
No. I cannot.
In Ezekiel 18, Ezekiel wrote about how the righteous son of an evil man will not die for his father’s sins. He also wrote about how an evil man will die for his evil deeds and a righteous man will live. Did Osama bin Laden deserve what he got? Absolutely. As do we all. However, I cannot take joy in knowing that another soul has been sentenced to torment forever. How much rejoicing would there be had he been converted for the Lord, as Paul (a murderer and persecutor of Christians) was? I find it unlikely, though, that he would have chosen to trust Jesus in his final days. I hope and pray that his followers do not follow in his footsteps.
I thank God for our troops and for their willingness to put themselves at risk to keep us safe, and I congratulate them on their well-deserved praises for this mission. I am both pleased and relieved that such an evil human being can no longer harm us directly. I simply cannot revel in his eternal damnation.