Well that’s strange I thought. We finished up PE and I thought nothing of it. But by the look on my algebra teacher’s face when I walked into my next classroom, I could tell something was really wrong. She turned on the TV and we watched in horror as smoke poured out of the towers on live television.
Why didn’t God stop these attacks? Why didn’t God protect the innocent? Why doesn’t God bring justice? How could God be loving and simply do nothing? How is this fair?
God is not to blame. We have to be perfectly clear. What happened on 9/11 was evil. 2,819 people were murdered. That day was a tragedy. But God is not at fault. Ezeikiel 18:32 says, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone,” declares the Sovereign Lord.” The men who hijacked those planes are at fault. The men who gave them their orders are at fault. Sinful men are at fault, but not God.
God has a plan. There is no getting around it though. God could have stopped 9/11. He could have struck the terrorists down with lightning that morning or orchestrated any number of events that could have prevented this tragedy. But He didn’t. Why? Does that make Him unloving? The Bible tells us in Romans 8:28 that “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.”
We see many examples of this throughout the Bible. In Genesis, we see Joseph betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, framed for rape, and imprisoned for years. I don’t doubt that there were times in Joseph’s life where he asked some of these very same questions and wondered if God really was good. But many years later, Joseph was able to see God’s good plan. It was because of all of those terrible and tragic things that Joseph was able to rise to power in Egypt and save the lives of millions, including his own family. In the Gospels, we see King Jesus betrayed, arrested, tortured, and killed. And then we see the wonderful goodness of God’s plan in using His death to forgive the sins of all those who believe. In Acts, we see fierce persecution breakout and many godly people are killed violently. But then we see that it was this persecution that caused the disciples to leave Jerusalem and spread the Gospel around the world. If not for that, you and I in America probably wouldn’t be Christians today.
It doesn’t make sense right now. It’s all well and good to claim that somehow God will use the tragedy of 9/11 for good. But how? How does it make sense? How can the loss of over 2,000 fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, husbands, wives, and loved ones possibly ever be used as a good thing in God’s eyes? We can offer our poor guesses with our limited understanding. We can say that maybe the events of 9/11 were used by God as a wakeup call to us all that life is short and we need to get right with Him. Perhaps 9/11 was used by God to stir America to fight against people like Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps, 9/11 was allowed as an act of judgment on our nation for our sin as some have claimed. Maybe it was even a mixture of the above. But the bottom line is that right now, we just don’t know the reasons.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, ”My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” The truth is that we just don’t know what reasons God had for allowing 9/11. All we can do is guess. And that’s okay, because God is good and we have His promise that He will work ALL things together for good. Its alright to throw our hands up in the air and say, “I don’t know why God allowed it, but I trust Him.” And that’s not blind trust either. God has an incredible and faithful track record when it comes to keeping His promises and turning tragedy into blessing. One day we will have the answer but for now, it is time for us to trust.
Justice will be served. We also must not get so focused on the present that we forget the truth of the future. There will come a day when God judges the living and the dead and all people give an account. Romans 2:8 rightly states, “…but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” “Why doesn’t God bring justice?” we ask. He will. There will be a day when all those behind the 9/11 attacks stand before the Holy Judge and He renders to them exactly what they deserve. The penalty of sin is eternal separation from God in eternal torment in Hell.
We don’t deserve happy lives. Now here is the one that I know will offend some people. All of us are sinners. We have rebelled against the greatest and most powerful being in the universe. We often act like and speak as if God owes it to us to provide us with good things. But the truth is that what we are owed by God is death and judgment because of our sins. Everything better than Hell that any of us experiences is simply a gift of God’s grace and not something He owes us. When you wake up in the morning, that is God’s grace. Its not something we deserve. This is harsh, but it is the truth. So when we get angry at God for allowing the death of many people in a tragic way, we are losing sight of the fact that all of us actually deserve much worse than that. God doesn’t owe any of us a happy life. In fact, we have all earned judgment and Hell for ourselves.
God offers eternal life and joy through Christ. That’s gloomy and I don’t want to end there because God doesn’t leave it at that. What is amazing is that God loves us still and doesn’t want us to end up in Hell. God devised a way to pay for our sins and purchase forgiveness for us. God found a way to forgive us without abandoning justice. God found a way to give us joyful, eternal life which we don’t deserve and could never earn! That way is Jesus. Jesus Christ lived the sinless , righteous life that we have failed to live, died a torturous death on the cross in our place, and rose again to give us life. When you trust Jesus as your Savior, you are adopted into God’s family and while there may be tragedies in this life, the story will end well for you. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
As you reflect on 9/11 and perhaps other trials and tragedies in your life, keep these things in mind. Evil people are to blame for evil, not God. God has a good plan even when we can’t understand it all. God will bring about justice in the end. And, while we aren’t guaranteed happy lives, God offers us all the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Have you accepted that offer?