Watching the many shocking scenes recorded in Beirut I noticed one absolutely extraordinary. I am subjective: I choose one only, given the huge contrast of… before and after.
Israa Seblani, a resident doctor at a hospital in Detroit (USA), had come to Beirut to be a bride. For several weeks they had prepared every detail. Then came the great day, with a shooting session scheduled just hours before the ceremony. While recording the scenes with a fairy tale bride, photographer Mahmoud Nakib heard a first explosion, but it seemed very far away. They decided to continue the shooting session. Then, suddenly, the sky darkened and a terrible roar was heard. The microphone of the camera recorded someone’s exclamation, “Allah Akbar”… And then came the shock of the final explosion.
In less than 30 seconds, the vulnerability of our world was obvious. In slow motion you can look at the bride’s smile, her calmness, the warmth of everything, the decor (see those windows at the end). And then, suddenly, everything changes into nightmare scenes. Between broken windows, dust and debris, the groom takes his bride and they both run to a shelter…
They saved their lives. But 135 people died and more than 5,000 were injured. Entire streets have been swept away by the blast, and 300,000 people are homeless now. “There is a lot of damage, many people were killed and wounded. But also if I want to look at us, myself, my husband, the photographer – how we escaped unharmed, I thank God for protecting us. ”(Israa Seblani)
For a moment, the mushroom of the Beirut explosion reminded me of the one in Hiroshima. (Yes, these days Japan is commemorating 75 years since the nuclear attacks that killed hundreds of thousands of people.)
Watching the video clip of the wedding in Beirut, I was instantly reminded of some Bible verses that talk about the surprise of the final events. Not to scare! But to remind us the fact that, from a distance, in time of peace and quiet, many things seem incredible. Every event, an earthquake, a tsunami, a sudden death, an accident (even a car accident), a terrorist attack…, each is shocking and comes as an unpleasant surprise. And only after it happens you get the full picture of the drama. And it being irreversible!
The biblical statements below are well-known. Maybe you memorised them many years ago, when you thought (felt) that the end was near. After a while, some of them settled in, like the automatisms of a creed. Take the dust out of them! The experience of the Lebanese bride can act as a reminder that, given the disorder of this world, the final gong (or trumpet) can be heard at any time.
“When they say, ‘Peace and quiet,’ then an unexpected destruction will come upon them.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 3)
“They knew nothing until the day the flood came and took them all away; so shall it be with the coming of the Son of man. ” (Matthew 24:39)
“Take heed to yourselves, lest that day come upon you without warning.” (Luke 21:34)
“Woe! Woe to you great city […] In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” (Revelation 18:19)
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:44)
The exhortation of Scripture is open, instructive and without condemnation:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36)