A vehicle rammed into people leaving London’s Finsbury Park Mosque after Ramadan prayers early this morning. One person died and ten were wounded. According to CNN, the leader of the mosque protected the suspected attacker from the furious crowd until police arrived.
The attacker reportedly shouted, “I did my bit, you deserve it.” London’s mayor called the crash a “horrific terrorist attack.” If the assault was retribution for jihadist attacks in London on March 22 and June 3, it makes clear that violence only begets more violence. But we can choose to break the cycle of vengeance. It is a fact of human history that our past need not determine our future.
Consider Brooks Koepka, the surprise winner of yesterday’s US Open. Golf’s four “major” titles are obviously its most prestigious and stressful tournaments. It would seem that experience is a critical advantage.
However, Koepka had never won a major title before and had won only one previous PGA tournament in his six years on the tour. In fact, fifteen of the last seventeen major champions were first-time major tournament winners. In athletics, our past need not determine our future.
One more example of our thesis: when Jacob David Alderdice proposed marriage to Uzezi Elakeche Abugo, the engagement ring he gave her was too small and cut off the blood to her finger. When it turned a dark shade of purple, they rushed to the emergency room. The ring was cut from her finger, leaving her with a lasting scar. The couple was married two days ago, showing that in relationships, our past need not determine our future.
Part of our divinely created nature is our capacity for freedom. As a result, we can refuse to return violence for violence. We can refuse to let our achievements limit our dreams. We can view injuries as invitations to a new life.
Consider King David. The youngest of eight sons, he was ignored and ridiculed by his brothers before he defeated Goliath and became king of Israel. In Psalm 144, he explained his secret: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me” (vv. 1–2).
Note David’s intimacy with his Lord: six times he used “my” in referring to God. And the One he depended upon so fully gave him a future and a legacy we celebrate still today.
When we make his declaration our commitment, his victory can be ours: “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (v. 15). How blessed will you be today?