Summary: A follow up to the events that took place on 9-11-01, part of a memorial service.
“WHAT GOOD IS GOD FOR?”
A Service of Remembrance
September 11, 2002
Do you remember where you were one year ago today when the planes hit the tower? I was in a Bible study and someone came in and said that a plan hit the World Trade Center tower. I thought it was a little Cessna plane and that someone had had an accident. We prayed for them. Half an hour later we heard about another plane and it began to dawn on me that something wasn’t right. It was almost a surreal moment. Then when we heard about the Pentagon, we knew the nation was under attack. It is unbelievable that the towers are gone. It’s almost like it really didn’t happen. Do you remember where you were?
Another question that people have had as a result of September 11 is, “Where was God?” My hope for you this evening, having heard the message, is that you will be able to identify exactly where God was. People have asked other questions as well: “If God is so good, how could he have allowed something this bad to happen?” “How involved is God in the world?” Is good more powerful than evil, or are they equal in strength and is there a tug-of-war going on between them?” “If God isn’t able to protect us from this type of tragedy, then what is God good for?”
Perhaps some of these questions are still on our minds. The Sunday after September 11, I addressed them in a message which is available in the back. I am not going to rehash the message, although if you are asking the question, “Why do bad things happen when God is supposed to be good and all-powerful?”, you need to understand the world in a realistic way. There are three things you need to know about the world:
1. It is very good. There are a lot of things that are right in our lives, and September 11 reminds us of those things. Since September 11, we have been able to count our blessings and realize how fortunate we are.
2. The world is fallen. Every aspect of the world is fallen. You can take any system, any government, marriage, spouses, children, nature itself–it’s all fallen and something is wrong with it. People are fallen. People make tragic mistakes, and their ideas can be twisted. Even faith and religion and God can be twisted and formed in such a way that a person can rationalize doing something which God clearly calls evil. If you are wondering what happened that day, God wants you to be ever so clear that it wasn’t him. It says in scripture that he has come to give life and life abundant. It is the enemy–evil itself–that has come to maim, kill and destroy. It was the act of evil men with evil intentions and evil ideas. It was us–it was people being so inhumane to one another.
3. God has given us the promise that if we trust him, he will never allow anything to happen in your life or my life that is unredeemable. He will always turn it to some good. He doesn’t cause it, but he will bring some good out of it. He will buy it back and cause the event to be an instrument in our lives that makes us better people and a better nation. That’s exactly what God did that day, and this evening I want to recount for you the hundreds of stories of what God has been doing in this nation as a result of September 11 to redeem and buy it back.
Ephesians 5:16 is very clear. God’s intention and hope is to redeem the times because they are evil. One of the famous passages is quoted by Mary who has a song in which she recounts that her God is a God of reversals. Men mean things for evil, but God means them for good. Here’s what Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has been mindful of the humble estate of his servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one has done great things. Holy is his name! His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deed with his arms. He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rules from their thrones. He has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but he has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his humble servant, Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our father.”