Summary: What God would say to America in light the recent tragic events of September 11, 2001
What God Would Say to America
In Light of the Terrorist Attack on America
September 16, 2001
Rev. Gary A. Shockley
Cornerstone United Methodist Church
Those of us old enough to remember can tell you exactly what we were doing the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Most recently in our nation’s history we experienced the tragic bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma by one of our nation’s own citizens. And now an entire new generation will have fixed in their memories the events of September 11, 2001 or 9-11.
I was with a realtor looking at prospective property for church when news came of the first jetliner to hit Tower One of the World Trade Center. You remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.
When we awakened on September 11th we thought we knew exactly how our day would unfold. In an instant what we thought to be important--meetings we had scheduled, activities we had planned, tasks we looked forward to-- evaporated away into nothingness as we came face to face with our own mortality.
It is uncanny, maybe even prophetic, that the text I had planned weeks ago to preach on this morning is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount--the second beatitude, from Matthew 5:4, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This verse came on the heels of last Sunday’s Word from God, “God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.”
What WOULD God say to America--a nation in mourning right now? I’ve thought of little else all week. I purposely went out and mulled around Cranberry to talk to people and hear their stories. I confessed to one stranger during the interviews we taped, “I am the pastor of a local church faced with difficult task of preaching this Sunday. What do I say to the people who come to worship?” I felt I needed to begin by listening both to God and the people in my community before I committed anything to paper.
I wish I had something profound to say to you—maybe all that is profound has been said already. So let us turn our hearts again to God and consider in these next few minutes what God might say to America?
1. You seek to blame---but you need to trust.
It’s only natural that we would want to find the people who did this and strike out at them. It’s only human to want to find those responsible for this evil act and seek vengeance on them. But God calls us beyond what is “only human” and elevates our lives to a higher standard. God says in His word, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay those who deserve it. In due time they will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive and their destiny will overtake them.” (Deut. 32:35)
Vengeance is best left in the hands of a holy God. What we are to pray for is justice! We ask God to guide our nation’s leaders who have a responsibility to seek justice and do what is necessary to stand against this kind of evil. We ought to be praying that the actions they take will be wise, calculated, accurate, and strong.
It’s only natural for us in the face of such an event to ask, “Where is God? Why didn’t He stop this from happening? What didn’t He do something?” The answer is—we don’t know! This whole juxtaposition of human suffering and a loving God is beyond us. How can both exist?
The Bible says, “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we as Christians also groan to be released from pain and suffering.” (Romans 8:22) The Bible is clear that God is not the author of the evil and suffering of this world. These things entered our world through sin, through our disobedience to the will and ways of God. The Bible says in Genesis 3:18, “Because of sin, nature itself was corrupted and thorns and thistles entered into the world.” God created us with free will and with that comes the freedom to choose what is right and what is evil. And because God loves us will not take that freedom from us.
Because of their sin 19 men were bent toward doing things out of their own free will, on September 11th, that would bring pain and suffering to our world.
Why didn’t God do something? How do we know He didn’t? Though the death toll in this is staggering we know it could have been far worse. God was present. God is present in the awesome display of heroism and love we hear about more and more each day. Out of the ashes of destruction God is bringing forth acts of mercy and compassion unlike anything we have ever seen!