This weekend we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Of course, no one had forgotten them, but maybe this weekend we will remember them again with our hearts. I am re-saddened by heart breaking stories and scenes of loss, re-inspired by accounts of bravery and heroism, and re-convicted to live each day with courage, faith and gratitude.
In the days following 9/11 the people of our nation prayed together in rare unity. Church attendance went up as our tears fell down. Yet many asked, Where was God? Why did he allow this?
I do not presume to know why God allows what he allows or does what he does. But, there are some things we do know about God, about our world, and about ourselves. As you remember 9/11, don’t forget to connect to these dots of truth.
God is good, he created a good world, and his purpose and intentions toward his creation are good.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
We messed it up.
You can read the story in Genesis 3.
God is still good, he still loves us, and he has a plan to restore us and our world to perfection. But it’s going to take a while and until then, the world is still messed up.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God’s plan was to send his perfect son, Jesus, to overcome sin by taking its penalty entirely on himself. Those who witnessed Jesus’s unjust and painful death knew is it was very messed up, yet Jesus’s, life, death and resurrection, were the events through which God will restore this world. Sometimes events that look very wrong from our perspective are eternally redemptive.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
But that doesn’t lessen the painful reality of our suffering. God understands that. It breaks his heart too. When Jesus’s good friend Lazarus died, he felt the same grief that we feel when our loved ones die. By the way, after Jesus wept over the tomb of his friend, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
God is well within his rights to get our attention through difficulty. This is well illustrated through the Old Testament history of God’s people, the ancient nation of Israel. If you read Old Testament prophets, the message is clear: God would do what was necessary to get his people to return to him. They were very stubborn. So are we.
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!” Ezekiel 33:11
“Seek the Lord and live…” Amos 5:6
It’s challenging to connect all these dots into a picture that makes sense to us, isn’t it? One more dot of truth might be helpful:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9