Safe in the Middle East

What the Boston Marathon bombing taught me about God.

By Jess Fong   |  9 May 2013
Safe in the Middle East (photo)
photos by Jess Fong

When I first told friends we were going to Jordan for vacation, the general response was, “Um, why? Have you read the news?” Read: Isn’t that…dangerous?

And so it was in Jordan, maybe dangerously, in a hotel by the Dead Sea, that we first got the text messages.

Are you okay?

Hey, are your family and friends alright?

Just checking if your family is safe.

What? I responded. We’re on vacation. They are with me. We’re safe. What happened?

I woke up my brother and we prayed and watched the news, staring as the same video played over and over again of two bombs going off just blocks from our parent’s house in Boston. There’s Boylston street. There’s the church tower. There’s the convention center, and the library I used to study in, and the T station my brother walks in and out twice a day. There’s the Apple store. There’s blood.

I checked Facebook, and all of my friends seemed unhurt. But none were ok.

In the morning, we got in the van of our Jordanian driver and he told us how his family had gathered around the TV to watch the news. “My wife is sad, but you know what? I’m angry. Why do people do this? We need peace. All of us need peace.”

The next day we arrived in the Wadi Rum desert, and Muhammad, our Bedouin driver, asked where we were from. “Oh my god, Boston,” he muttered when we told him. “Oh my god. Why are there such evil people? How could this happen?”

In Petra, a fellow tourist from New York asked if our family was okay.

The ticket counter attendant told us he was so sorry about our city, but our flight was landing. For a while we weren’t sure if the airport would open, or if we could even reach our house because of the massive city-wide lockdown.

In what I believe to be a rare American experience, I was safe in the Middle East while my home city got bombed. Bombed, with what is considered a weapon of mass destruction.

But really, and I need to remember this, in the most gentle, most heavenly and loving way possible, we are not safe. We live among shelled-out, devastated people everyday. Whether that’s obvious is a matter of discretion.

It’s possible that I wasn’t entirely safe in the Middle East. But after the bombings, I think we can all agree that I wouldn’t have been safe in Boston either.

What’s true is that there is no safe place. We can build forts and levees and distance ourselves from people, but there’s no such location entirely, perfectly, bombproof or for that matter, hurt-proof.

Our only safety is God. It’s a relationship that is utterly assured.

I cannot promise you that it is comfortable with God here on this earth, or that I always get the things that I want for my family and friends now that I have Jesus in my life. People still hurt each other, and I know that my Christian friends in Boston are still reeling with the effects of the bombings and subsequent events.

But I can tell you that life with Christ, and recognizing that He is the only eternal security we have, is the safest that I’ve ever been. Safety isn’t in a place; it’s in the person of Jesus Christ.

Find out more about being confident in your relationship with Christ.