Summary: Reflections on the tragedy in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.
Fiery plane crashes. Billowing smoke. Imploding buildings. Contorted metal. Mountains of rubble. Burned out fire trucks and police cruisers. Walking wounded. Dead bodies. Anguished, broken-hearted loved ones. Bone weary rescue workers. We have all seen the heart-wrenching sights. And we have replayed them over and over again in our minds.
With them come unanswered questions. Why? Why didn’t God intervene and prevent this unspeakable tragedy? Certainly He could have. Many wonder, “Doesn’t He care?”
1. THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
The age old question and problem of evil has again poignantly and powerfully been brought to the forefront of our minds. “We wrestle with the question of evil - the pain and wickedness that are everywhere and so distressingly evident politically, socially and personally.” (Peterson)
It is so hard to fit evil into the scheme of things. Evil is the consequence of man’s sinful heart and free choice. Scripture (Jeremiah 17:9) declares, “THE HEART IS DESPERATELY WICKED.”
“Even those of us who have acknowledged the darkness and turned to the Lord for forgiveness are haunted by the shadow of evil. (146/789/Hybels) Our words speak of grace and love but often our actions often sting and wound.”
In varying degrees evil lurks within all of us. God has given us the freedom to chose good or evil. That is part of what it means to be human. We are not robots. We can do as we please.
Why do some people chose to do unfathomable evil?
Why does not God prevent them?
God hasn’t given us the complete answer.
Years ago in Oxford there was a brilliant and highly esteemed professor named C.E.M. Joad, one of the worlds’ most renowned philosophers. All his life he had been a militant unbeliever, because he said he couldn’t square the evil in the world with a good God.
Later in life, however, he became a very committed Christian and he said it was because he began to see that in order to have character there must be choice, a real choice between good and evil.
A man made good without his own choice is not a good man, he’s a good thing. The same God who created this world came into this world himself and lived in it on human terms and redeemed us through his Son, Jesus Christ. He created an innocent one with the possibility of choice, evil as well as good, and man chose evil and there was a fall. This exact thing is reproduced in the life of every one of us.
Then God provided redemption. That’s the Christian view of the world. And it begins to make sense when you believe in God as revealed in Jesus Christ.” (S. Shoemaker) To C.E.M. Joad and millions of others, the Gospel offers the best, albeit incomplete, answer to the problem of evil.
2. A REMINDER OF HOW FRAGILE AND TEMPORARY LIFE IS
James (4:13-15) writes: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this city or that city, spend some time there, carry on business, make some money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Reading that I couldn’t help but think of the thousands who last Tuesday went about their normal business never realizing that it would be their last day on earth.
1 Chronicles 29:15 declares, “OUR DAYS ON EARTH ARELIKE A SHADOW, THERE IS NONE WHO ABIDES.”
The Psalmist said (102:11), “MY DAYS ARE LIKE AN EVENING SHADOW.”
Job (7:6) cried out saying, “MY DAYS ARE SWIFTER THAN A WEAVER’S SHUTTLE…”
Life here on earth is short. It is fleeting. We need, therefore, to be living for things that are eternal.
After declaring that our lives here on earth are “like a midst”, James admonishes us to pursue God’s will for our lives. That is the only prudent and sensible thing to do.
1 John 2:17 declares, “THE WORLD AND ITS DESIRES PASS AWAY, BUT THE ONE WHO DOES THE WILL OF GOD LIVES FOREVER.”
What is God’s will for your life?
God desires for you to surrender your life to the Lordship of Christ. He wants you to follow and obey Christ; to daily live in the light of His presence. He wants you to serve Him.
“THE ONE WHO DOES THIS WILL OF GOD LIVES FOREVER.”
The night Daniel Webster lay dying, his physician and friend, Dr. Jeffries, was at his bedside. The Dr. picked up an old hymnbook of Webster’s and read the words of one of Webster’s favorite hymns.
There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Dr, Jeffries read through every stanza and when he got to the last, Webster’s lips were moving, though no sound came.