When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. – Proverbs 11:10

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the
times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. – Acts 1:7

As the news of Osama bin Laden’s death spread across the world, I found myself intrigued as I looked back over the 18+ years this man wrecked havoc with both Western and Middle Eastern powers. I was even comparing his similar history with Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a US ally during the Iran-Iraq war. The US had an enemy in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, who took the country into fundamental Islamic governance after the Shah was ousted. Similarly, Osama bin Laden had been supported by the United States during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, in his and the Mujahadeen’s efforts to oust the Soviet army from that country.

My how things change.

So as time progressed, we overthrew and captured Saddam Hussein. It only made sense that, over time, we would also find and catch Osama bin Laden. And May 1st, when we did, was an amazing day indeed.

But there is something in this scenario that I think we all need to stop and realize. OSB was a prolific figure in the Muslim world. Even peaceful Muslims are quietly amazed at the successes he was having against the Western powers, even if they also knew in their hearts it was only for a time. The 10-year manhunt, which followed 6 years on the FBI’s most-wanted list, was long and difficult. It even spanned three US Presidential terms.

And that is when I realized something I had not put together before: the difference between the Bush and Obama personalities, and how each was needed at the right time. George W. Bush has a reputation as a cowboy, and the anti-linguist. Barack Obama is well-spoken, with a very magnetic personality. One President, with a cowboy reputation, stood at Ground Zero and used a bull-horn to motivate the American people into believing that “the people who did this will hear from us.” It worked: it was leadership at its finest, and exactly what needed to be said at the moment.

And on May 1st, a few days after the President gives the order for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, President Obama speaks to the nation to announce that bin Laden had been found and killed. And in that well-dressed, very magnetic personality of Barack Obama comes a speech which follows that everyone should listen to more than once.  Consider this very significant part which was addressed at Muslims around the world:

I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Isn’t it interesting what has happened in the Middle East since bin Laden’s death has been announced by the President.  There have been a few localized marches in the Middle East, but … no major clashes.  That seems somewhat strange, for a region which went absolutely ballistic over a Florida man’s burning of the Koran a few weeks ago.  Or, maybe it is not… reread Proverbs 11:10 above.  In some way, I think Barack Obama’s connection to Muslims has dampened any truly harsh reaction.. but we can’t really measure that.

To understand God’s timing, I want you to imagine another scenario.  What would have happened on May 1st if George W. Bush were still president, or even if John McCain were president?  They don’t have a connection to Muslims like Barack Obama does.  Ever since he was elected, the Muslim world has seen Barack Obama as a favored son.  So the words I extracted from his speech, when delivered by a man they can relate to, has a very powerful and broad impact.  I am very convinced that George Bush or John McCain would have had a much more difficult time making that kind of connection, the way Barack Obama can do.

So the Lord puts in a strong cowboy as President to start the manhunt, and ends it with a President who spent a period of his youth growing up in the Muslim culture to understand and relate to it.  And both men are Christians.  I can not imagine a better scenario.

That’s why the Lord points out in his word, to submit to, and pray for the powers he appoints over man.. even if it means you didn’t vote for them.  Before May 1st, 2011, who would have known?