I’ll never forget that morning on September 11th, 2001 when I found out about the first plane hitting the twin towers. I had walked into a 7/11 convenience store and noticed that everyone was just standing there glued to the television behind the counter. They were all in a state of shock. The usual hustle and bustle of activity was gone.
I watched the television for a couple of minutes and then just turned around and walked out.
As I headed to my car it felt like the atmosphere changed. I drove through my neighborhood and noticed how the neighbors outside were responding to the news. We all seemed to be thinking the same thing. Is this just the beginning of a series of attacks in every major city? Perhaps even in our own town since we live near a military base and a nuclear power plant? (Danica and I were living in Oceanside at the time.)
I walked through the front door and told Danica to turn on the television just in time to see the second plane crash into the south tower. I don’t remember how long we just sat there watching and listening to the news commentator speculate on the what and why as the tragedy “that stretched human powers of understanding to the breaking point” continued to unfold.
The obvious question that comes to mind is, “Where was God on September 11th, 2001?” Well, He wasn’t there.
What I mean to say is this: the God you want to believe in wasn’t there. The God who, in the words of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, is “a very personal, very nurturing, very caring, very ‘make-it-all-OK’ God” simply wasn’t there.
Well, since God exists, what kind of God was there? The Bible provides the insight we need to understand better who God really is.
There was a man from ancient times named Job who had lost all of his children, his wealth, and his health. There was no one to provide any comfort either. It was a terrible time of pain and suffering. His faith-filled attitude towards God from thousands of years ago still resonates today. He declared, “Though He slays me, yet will I hope in Him (Job 13:15).”
God is still in the slaying business, for without the slaying, the challenge to trust in a sovereign God in the face of trial wouldn’t be there. We must trust in God’s sovereign ways.
(To clarify, God “slayed” Job in the sense that He gave Satan permission to torment him. He also gave specific conditions in regard to the torment; i.e. not allowing Satan to take Job’s life.)
For God to be sovereign means that He is in complete control of the universe. This does not negate the doctrine of free will, for humans have the ability to make choices that have real consequences. Yet God indirectly or directly engineers all that happens to happen. This truth will either be a great source of anguish or comfort. It depends on your perception of God.
For me, this truth is a source of comfort. It’s comforting to know that God “works all things together for good unto those who love Him (Romans 8:28)…” The famous slogan from the insurance company Allstate is fitting; “You’re in good hands…” I’m in good hands with an all-powerful, all-knowing, present-everywhere God who created the universe and the earth and everything in it. I’m in good hands and all things work together for my good. Why? Because I love Him.
The same truth applies to every victim adversely affected by 9/11. God is sovereign and He is either a source of anguish or comfort when tragedy strikes. Whoever claims to love God should be comforted, and what an indescribable blessing to experience God’s comfort!
“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).” Thank you God for the trial; not that it happened, but that I get to experience a facet of You that was previously not possible.
Britain’s The Times
~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church. ~ Any questions or comments regarding the story? Got an idea for a story we should write? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or check us out on the web at www.scesco.net.