Boston bombing victims likely to question God?

Fourteen amputees lost limbs in last week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

At least one expert suggests they will struggle to make sense of the tragedy in the spiritual sense.

Losing a limb is like losing a family member, the Religion News Service reports. It involves grief and mourning, according to Jack Richmond, a Chattanooga, Tenn., amputee who leads education efforts for the Manassas, Va.-based Amputee Coalition. When one’s body and abilities are radically changed, questions of meaning are suddenly urgent: Why did this happen? Why am I here?

A woman injured in the Boston bombing is wheeled away by medical personnel. (The Associated Press)

“You’re wondering: Why did I live?” said Rose Bissonnette, an amputee and founder of the Lancaster, Mass.-based New England Amputee Association, a support organization for amputees.

Bissonnette works regularly with more than 150 amputees and told the RNS she finds a common pattern. Those who feel positively connected to God and to other people tend to do better in recovery than those who have “hardened” or grown bitter as a result of their injuries.

“You have to (let go of) the life you lived before and forgive for whatever happened to cause the amputation,” said Bissonnette, who was crushed by a tractor-trailer 16 years ago and lost a leg. “It’s tough, (and) if they don’t have some kind of belief, they get hung up in the anger. I’ve noticed that quite a bit.”

Research on other disabilities reaches slightly different conclusions. People of strong faith are no more likely than nonbelievers to accept a neuromuscular disease, according to Jessica Evans, a psychotherapist who published her findings in the Journal of Christian Healing, published by the Association of Christian Therapists.

The difficulty for an amputee survivor of a tragedy like the Boston bombing is they are otherwise unaffected. These victims should go on to live otherwise long and healthy lives. But they will always have a daily reminder that they came face-to-face with evil.

And that has to be a very strong challenge to their faith.

Have you ever had you faith challenged by a difficult circumstance in life?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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