By Andrea B.
Like all of us, I feel profoundly affected by the recent events of the Boston bombing. As I’ve tried to process such human tragedy, I have been moved by the overwhelming signs of love and support for the Boston community. One slogan that I have latched on to–which has become ubiquitous on buses, t shirts, Twitter accounts, and even the Red Sox Green Monster–is the phrase Boston Strong, truncated down to the charge to “B(e) Strong”. It is a clarion call to show resiliency in the face of terror, and to do it together. To me, one of the first moments of being strong in the face of the marathon terror began with a man named Bill Iffrig. I cite from a news article:
“Bill Iffrig of Lake Stevens, WA, was just short of the finish line in the 26-mile Boston Marathon [on April 15] when he heard a horrific noise and found himself on the ground . . . A now widely-seen video of the race captured the blast and Iffrig, wearing bib number 19200 over an orange tank top, crumpling from the shockwaves. . . A race official came to check on him and helped him up. Then, accompanied by the official, Iffrig walked the last 12 feet or so across the finish line.” Bill Iffrig knew the end from the beginning. He prepared, he worked hard, and he dedicated himself to finishing the race. With help from others, not even a bomb could deter him from his goal. He was one of the first to show Boston the meaning of Being Strong.
As we view the very worst of human nature in action, some may wonder if–on this pathway of life–there is an end destination, and if there is even a reason to Be Strong. Yet, we in this LDS community of faith believe that there is purpose in life specifically because we believe in this most important truth: there is a God, and he is our Eternal Father. Jeffrey Holland has described the God we worship as a father who is “personal, living, [one] who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit . . . amidst the wondrously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns.” God loves us, and though he does not wish us pain, he allows us to live in a world with pain so that we can learn. It is from the ashes of affliction that we rise to become the very best versions of ourselves. This powerful truth helps me reconcile a loving God with a tainted world. Knowing the nature of God helps me to Be Strong. Because God in an act of love has revealed to us the end from the beginning, we, like Bill Iffrig, press on with courage, so that at the end of our sojourn in this marathon we can say with Bill, and with Paul of the New Testament, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). May we each renew our belief in God, and allow him to console us in our disappointments, pick us up when we fall, and ultimately guide us home to him. In our times of trial, may we ever Be Strong.