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Summary: How do we live life in a nation that is at war with terrorism? What do the scriptures teach about living in times of tragedy & uncertainty? (PowerPoint available - #242)

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MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER

RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK

(REVISED: 2016)

(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at mnewland@sstelco.com with your request - #242.)

TEXT: Psalms 91:1-7; Lamentations 3:22-26

A. Again & again this past week we were reminded that 15 years ago today our nation experienced a terrible tragedy that significantly altered our sense of security & the very way in which we live.

On that day nearly 3,000 died in 4 separate terrorist attacks, & as a nation, we will never be quite the same again.

ILL. In one of Elie Wiesel’s books, there is a troubling story of a man who lived in Europe during World War 2. He is a Jew living in a community invaded by the Nazis. He’s very devoted to God, but he’s also a bit on the crazy side.

The day the Germans invade, this man goes into hiding. When he feels it is safe to do so, he comes out, runs to the synagogue, looks up at the ceiling & shouts – “You see, God, we’re still here!”

Then the Nazis begin a series of oppressive actions against the Jews. Occasionally, a number of the Jews are rounded up & put on trains, never to be seen again.

And each time this happens, this crazy little Jew goes into hiding. And when he feels it is safe to do so, he comes out, runs to the synagogue, looks up at the ceiling & shouts – “You see, God, we’re still here!”

But eventually this crazy little man finds himself alone – the last Jew in town. As was his custom, after he felt it was safe, he came out of hiding. He went into the synagogue, looked up at the ceiling, & whispered, “You see, God, I’m still here.”

After a moment’s pause, he adds, “But you, God – where are you?”

(Adapted from W. Maynard Pittendreigh on SC)

In the light of the terror attacks all around the world & in our own country since 9/11 we have heard some asking that same question. “Where is God when we need Him? Doesn’t He care?”

B. The sad thing is that God is present with everyone, but not everyone realizes & experiences that presence. Listen to this “9-11 Letter from God.”

ILL. You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001. Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say, "Good-bye.” I held his fingers steady as he dialed, & I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I’m not going to make it, but it is okay ... I’m ready to go."

I was with his wife, who was serving breakfast to their children, when he called. I held her up as she tried to understand his words & then when she realized he would never be coming home again.

I was in the stairwell when a woman cried out to me for help. And I was with the rescue workers who heard her cries.

I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all of them knew Me. Some sought Me with their last breath. Others chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But I was there.

I was in all 4 of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was in the hearts of the believers there, comforting & strengthening them.

I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end, & I will be there for you, as well. So seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you will know that you are "ready to go." Remember... I love you. (Adapted from Jeff Armbrester on SC)

The irony of all this is that we’re all in the presence of God, but we don’t all let ourselves experience His comforting presence.

ILL. The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. Its mouth is 90 miles across. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can still detect its powerful currents 200 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, far away from any sight of land.

The story is told that in ancient times, sailing ships often became becalmed in the almost windless waters of the South Atlantic. Drifting along without any wind, sailors sometimes died for lack of water. Helpless, dying of thirst, sailors in such a condition would see another ship & beg for their help. “We’re out of water, & we’re dying,” they would say. “Can you spare us any water?”

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