Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day that you and I will never forget.
In less than one hour, what started as a fairly normal and peaceful day in most parts of the world was turned into chaos and became something of a nightmare for right thinking people living on this planet.
America and the world watched in horror as two of the nation’s tallest buildings crumbled to the ground in a shower of dust and steel, killing thousands of people in the wake of their collapse. A few hundred miles away, a plane crashed into the oddly shaped building, known as the Pentagon, killing just under two hundred. And still, just a few hundred miles further, yet another plane hurtled to the ground, killing everyone on board.
The scenes from this horrific incident will remain embedded on the collective memories of all of us who saw the senseless destruction and callous disregard for human life.
Nowhere to hide from the mad men?
What made these scenes frighteningly disturbing is that they resulted from the violent behavior of terrorists–mad men acting in the name of some cause about which they felt so strongly that they were prepared to die for that cause and destroy others along with themselves.
Even more stunning than the sight of these buildings crumbling and burying people in the rubble was the very thought that this could happen right here in America. Where else can people go to feel safe and secure?
Grief, Anger and Outrage
There is no doubt that in addition to the grief that this nation now feels there is widespread anger and outrage. We can all share the feelings of grief felt by those who have lost relatives, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and dear friends in this terrible disaster. Most of all, I can identify with the anger and outrage. But in the face of such despicable actions, what is the more appropriate response?
Whenever disasters of this nature strike, people have a hard time understanding “Why?” — If there is a God, why did he let something like this happen? Why did he not intervene to prevent it from happening?
Why doesn’t God intervene?
We expect God to act with power. We expect him to intervene on behalf of the powerless and the innocent, to punish the wicked, to mete out justice to those who act unjustly, to be the defender of the weak and the helpless. We don’t only want him to be powerful and mighty but we want him to care about the things that we care about and to be concerned for the people for whom we are concerned. When he doesn’t act as people expect, we are disappointed and we wonder about his power or about the extent of his concern.
The full and final revelation of God seen in Christ Jesus
But there is another side of God that he has revealed to us. It is one of a God who although all powerful knows what it means to be touched with the infirmities of those whom he has made. In order to do that he became flesh and entered into the human experience. It is in Christ the son, that God became one with us.
Beyond any shadow of doubt, God reveals himself in Christ Jesus. He demonstrated his power over disease, demons and death. He spoke and the winds obeyed his command.
But we also see him standing outside the tomb of Lazarus shaking with uncontrollable weeping. We see him standing on the Mount of Olives weeping over the city of Jerusalem. And we hear him, while hanging on the cross, with nails piercing his feet and hands, crying out through tears of anguish “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” By his example, Christ our Lord shows us that God cares. That like us God knows what it means to feel pain. More than anyone else he understands human suffering.
Powerful and Caring
God has the power all right. He reserves the right to intervene–or not to–when he chooses, to protect the weak from the unjust, to defend the innocent and save us all from evil.
I must be honest, and say I still want God to intervene when things go wrong; to teach the wicked a lesson. I still want God to act with raw power on those occasions when I feel a show of force is needed to get the attention of the wicked. Hey! I am only human.
But you know something? It helps to know that this God, who is all-powerful, is willing to share my pain when I am deeply hurt. He is willing to weep when I am overwhelmed with sorrow. And I can feel his arms around me comforting me in times of my deepest distress.
It is good to know that at times like these there are those who can reach out in comfort to those who are hurting deeply. They may not be able to answer your questions but they are there to let you know that God shares our pain.