I am getting sick of hearing that question and even more sick of some of the answers I have heard come from the mouths of clergy who are asked it. Not that some of their answers haven't been at least half right. I have heard such things as this; God is not responsible for the bad things that happen in this world, it is the evil in man's heart that is responsible.
Okay that sounds like a good answer, but it misses the whole point from where I stand. We as Christians claim to serve an all powerful God. A God who can do anything, and without whose permission nothing takes place. So what is the answer to the question; where was God on September 11, 2001?
That is the question many non-believers and even many believers are asking. My major problem with the pat answers some clergy give is that they don't address the real issue. No God does not cause evil, but He is capable of restraining it. I have heard people say that September 11th was the beginning of God's judgment on the United States. I reject that notion also. I do believe that we saw Him lift His hand of protection for an instant. I believe that God gave us a wake up call but I don't believe that the horrible act by these terrorists was God's judgment on us. Believe me we deserve far worse then we got.
So what is the answer to the question where was God on September 11, 2001? You may be surprised by my answer, because unfortunately you have not heard it very often if at all before.
There were four commercial airliners which were highjacked. I don't know how many of you had flown cross country in the months just prior to September 11th, but I and my family did. We flew to California and back in July. Every plane that we were on was at capacity or within a couple seats of capacity. The airlines in the past few years have done everything in their power to make sure that the flights they fly are full. They have been in too bad a shape financially to fly aircraft across country only half full or less. Yet out of the four aircraft which were highjacked that day each one had less then 1/4 of the maximum passengers onboard. Where was God on September 11, 2001?
If you were like most of America and the world for that matter, you were glued to a television or a radio during the attacks on September 11th. Many people, including me, started watching the coverage shortly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center and were watching in horror as the second aircraft hit the second tower.
How many times did you hear the news casters pontificating about how many people might have been inside those structures? I heard 'conservative' estimates of 20,000 people in each tower and another 10,000 commuters in the station under the towers. We were continually told that the death toll could be close to 50,000 people. We heard that even if half of the people were able to get out the death toll could be 25,000 people. Where was God on September 11, 2001?
We watched as many brave firemen, and police officers rushed into that building to help those in need. I do not want to do anything that might appear to diminish the horrible loss of life that occurred that day. It was horrible and unthinkable, but I do want to try to answer that all important question; where was God?
The third plane crashed into the Pentagon. Again we were told that there could possibly be thousands of dead from this crash. The Pentagon is nothing but offices and is a very busy place. Where was God on September 11, 2001?
Back to the WTC for a moment. Not only were the planes only about 1/4 full when they slammed into the towers, but now (three months later) the official death toll stands at less then 3,000. As horrible as that number is, it can't compare with the estimates of 25,000 to 50,000. Where was God September 11, 2001?
At the Pentagon we were told what a lucky thing happened. Not only did the plane hit the one spot in the building that had been retrofitted to withstand this kind of attack, but it had not yet fully opened back up and therefore was almost unoccupied at the time of the attack. Where was God on September 11, 2001?
I know I have about worn out that question in this article, but that was my point. If a person cannot see God's mercy and love and hand of protection through this incident then they are blind. Luck had nothing to do with the low loss of life on September 11. The terrorist had planned this attack to maximize civilian casualties. These men's hearts were evil and vile, but God was one step ahead of them. Yes He could have stopped the attacks from happening, but as I said I believe He was giving us warning that He will not long tolerate our sinfulness, but I also believe that He was in control and showed us His loving mercy that day.
Why don't the clergy speak of God's mercy and grace through this incident? Why don't they call attention to what everyone's fear was when the attacks happened and how, as bad as the death toll is it is nothing compared to what would have happened if God had not been there.
I have even heard people say that maybe God allowed this attack to get more people into church. I am sorry but that is absurd too. Yes more people went to church following the attacks, but where was the great repenting and revival? It did not happen because today's church is preaching a feel good gospel instead of preaching God's word.
My family and I visited a church this weekend. The people were very nice but I noticed that no one was carrying a Bible. That bothered me, but it is not too unusual. What really bothered me were a couple of statements the church makes on their website and in their bulletins:
We're not interested in putting you on a guilt trip.
Enjoy contemporary music and an encouraging message of hope from the Bible related to life as it is lived in the real world.
You'll find a place of joy, hope, and acceptance.
When will we start telling people that they are under a blanket of guilt and condemnation by God almighty? When will we quit trying to preach encouraging messages which do not touch any nerves? When will we start telling people that although they are unconditionally loved by God, they are NOT unconditionally accepted by Him? There is only one way to be accepted by God and that is through repentance and the saving blood of Jesus Christ? If we don't start soon we may hear that question more in the future: where was God on ... ... ?
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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