Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where was God on September 11?

Here on the west coast, many of us woke up seven years ago with the news that our country was under attack. I remember hearing a knock at the door, jumping out of bed, and being told by our neighbors that two jets had just crashed into the World Trade Center towers. We immediately turned on the radio (didn't have cable TV) to hear the description of the first tower collapsing "like a melting candle."

Later that morning at work, I stood in shock as I watched the replay again and again of United Flight 175 crashing into the south tower. It's still sends shivers up my spine: Four hijackings. Thousands killed. All flights cancelled. The dawning of a new war.

Where was God on September 11? Did He fall asleep or "step away from His desk" for a few minutes? Was He surprised by what happened? Did He try to prevent it and fail?

While September 11, 2001 was one of the darker moments in history, it doesn't disprove the existence of a sovereign God. God was firmly seated upon His throne when those terrorists first heard the concept of jihad as little boys. He watched them as they obtained their visas to enter the United States. He was sovereign as they attended flight school, then boarded their flights, then hijacked the planes, and finally steered them into the trade center and the Pentagon. He sees them even now as a holy God who executes His eternal justice (Rom. 12:19).

At any stage, God could have instantly put a stop to this horrible plot, if He had chosen to do so. "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all" (Ps. 103:19). But for reasons known only to Him, God permitted this evil scheme to be carried out.

The fact is, what happened on September 11 is just another example of what God observed several thousand years ago: "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).

The terrorist attack seven years ago was a tragic example of human depravity, but it reveals a condition all of us share. It may have been more severe in degree, but it was identical in kind. You see, all of us sin and fall short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23). All of us have rebelled against God. Yet thankfully, God lovingly sent His Son Jesus to rescue us from this condition by paying for that sin once and for all upon the cross. This day and every day, that is very good news to remember.

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