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Woman killed by lion in ‘unfortunate accident’

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Dianna Hanson, who was attacked and killed by a lion on March 6, 2013, seen with wildlife at Project Survival's Cat Haven in Dunlap, Fresno County (Credit: Hanson Family)

A California woman killed by a lion accidentally caused her own death.  Last week, Fresno County closed its investigation of 24-year-old Dianna Hanson’s death by calling it an “unfortunate accident.”  Hanson failed to secure the door to a feeding cage where a lion was sitting while she cleaned an adjacent area.  The 550-pound Barbary lion escaped from the partially closed cage and struck her.  She died immediately from a broken neck.  Her father took solace in the fact that she died doing what she loved.

By contrast, a Texas inmate’s death last week was anything but accidental.  Richard Cobb was convicted of capital murder in the death of two women.  Before his execution, Cobb said, “Life is death, death is life.  I hope that someday this absurdity that humanity has come to will come to an end.”  Then, just before the lethal drug took effect, he shouted to the warden, “That is great.  That is awesome!  Thank you, warden!  Thank you (expletive) warden!”

Now consider Heather Abbott, a 38-year-old Boston Marathon bombing victim.  After a doctor amputated her left leg below the knee, she told reporters, “I really haven’t had a moment yet of being devastated.”  She says she’s focusing on healing, not anger, and hasn’t given the bombing suspects much thought: “I don’t even know how to pronounce their names.”

Theologian Frederick Buechner was right: “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun.  To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”

Where is anger tempting you this morning?  How could you redeem suffering for good?

John Wesley was rescued from a burning building when he was a child.  The experience of being saved by a loving God who deserved his grateful service never left him.  In serving that God he traveled 250,000 miles on horseback, averaging 20 miles a day for 40 years.  He preached 40,000 sermons, produced 400 books, and learned to use 10 languages.  At the age of 83 he was annoyed that he could not write more than 15 hours a day without hurting his eyes; at 86 he was ashamed that he could not preach more than twice a day.  He complained in his diary that there was an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning.

Do we need more Wesleys today?  Would you be one?