2Co 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Yesterday, enemies of the United States of America launched the largest successful coordinated attack within our national boundaries since Pearl Harbor. September 11, 2001, will prove to be America's second day that will go down in infamy. The day we had hoped would never come has finally arrived.
It is one thing to fight a war on foreign soil; it is another to die in your backyard or place of business. For more than a century, Americans have been essentially shielded from such warfare. The events of today indicate that we would be presumptuous to assume our children will enjoy such a shield during their lifetime.
At this point, it seems clear that the individuals or groups behind this attack were highly organized, well funded and systematic in their efforts. The most recent reports indicate that the diabolical schemes of the enemies of this nation have caused the horrific loss of four passenger planes, the destruction of at least three great buildings, which collectively house more than 50,000 workers and visitors, and the loss of life or injury of an untold multitude.
We do not yet know the numbers of the dead and wounded, but it seems reasonable to believe it will be in the thousands. Certainly hundreds of thousands of Americans will feel the pangs of anguish associated with the loss of a loved one or friend. Perhaps it will be you. Perhaps it will be me. I am confident that every true American, regardless of creed or station, mourns and grieves and suffers. For we are all Americans, and our family has been attacked.
Only the Lord knows the hundreds of tales, both of horror and of heroism, which were surely played out. I want to say for the record that I do not believe for one moment that any of these commercial pilots would fly a plane into a building, even with a gun to their heads. I am confident they would have lost their lives rather than be willing tools in such a vicious act.
We dare not even speculate at this time about the final moments aboard those planes for the many children, teenagers and adults. Nor can we imagine the unspeakably terrible choices facing those individuals caught high above the ground, trapped by the flames, and forced to jump from the heights of the World Trade Towers. We can only turn humbly to God, in prayer and in supplication, and beg for mercy for the many families who lost loved ones.
Tomorrow, the world will wake up, and it will be looking for answers. It is our responsibility to offer words of truth. What then should be the response of the Christian Community? What is our course of action? What should we say to our children at this grave moment? Please permit me to humbly offer the following thoughts for your consideration:
1. We must never forget that God is in control of all things, even devastation caused by a terrorist attack. The events of this day came as no surprise to Him. It may be difficult for finite man to understand His infinite counsel and decrees, but we can be assured of the goodness and wisdom of His plan. Furthermore, we can be confident that even this disaster will ultimately bring glory to Him. He is the sovereign God.
2. We must also remember that even wickedness will "work together for good for them that love God, to them who are called," (Romans 8:2 . If you are a child of the King, then all things work together for your ultimate good. Note, however, that all things do not work together for good for everyone. If you are not a Christian, you can find no ultimate hope or solace in a tragedy like the one we have just experienced.
3. Yet to be revealed are the many mercies of God which He extended today. The media has given multiple reports of individuals who found themselves in the World Trade Towers at the time of the crashes, but who inexplicably made it to safety. Thanks to a stray camera flash in the midst of the dust and ashes, one man was able to find an exit door and escape to safety. My own family has friends who work at the Pentagon in the precise region of the plane crash, but who, mercifully, were not there today.
4. Many Christians will be wondering whether they should shield their young children from the events of the day. I want to firmly advocate that we do not hide them from our children. Wisdom may dictate great discretion in how we discuss today's tragedy with our children, but it is imperative that we do discuss it. Our children must see us praying for our country. They must see us lifting up the families of the dead. They must hear us crying out that the Lord would be merciful to us and future generations. They must know that there are many people around the world who hate God, and that all those who hate God love death.
It is our role to stand against the hatred of God and to preach and live a message of life. This is an opportunity for every father to exercise his spiritual leadership in the home by demonstrating the right way for Christians to respond to tragedy and national judgment. It is an opportunity to begin to prepare our children for the awesome leadership and wisdom they must demonstrate as future leaders of the 21st century.
5. The Bible teaches that there is a clear connection between national judgment and national sin. Count on the fact that when a nation experiences calamities of this magnitude, the events are meant to get its attention. We should be examining ourselves as a people to see if we have been faithful to the God of our spiritual fathers who forged this nation. If we hope to enjoy the protection of God against our enemies, we must seek His favor by turning from our materialistic idolatries, our perversions and our child sacrifice.
Today thousands may have died, but every day thousands of innocent children die grizzly and horrible deaths in the State-blessed abortuaries of our nation. Surely this grieves God. Surely he hates this. Let us remember the words of the King of Ninevah: "Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry mightily to God: Yea let them turn every one from His evil way and from the violence which is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" (Jonah 3:8-9) The book of Jonah offers us hope: "And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way and God repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them; and He did it not." (Jonah 3:10)
6. We exist at the mercy of God and only by His mercy. Peace is a blessing, not a right. We must gather as families, as friends and as congregations to seek the Lord for this blessing.
7. Success breeds a spirit of invincibility. Americans live in a dream world of false security. But all earthly security is illusory. The amazing thing is not that this tragedy happened today, but that it has not happened before. America has long been vulnerable, not only from terrorist bombings, but also from technological and biological attack. It only takes one terrorist and a couple of vials of Anthrax to kill an entire community. We can and must prepare for such terrorism, and we must be thorough in our approach to such defenses. But we must proclaim with every fiber in our bodies, that absent the blessing of God, our defenses are useless. There are no unsinkable ships, and there are no invulnerable nations. The only absolute security is eternal security in Jesus Christ. We must flee to Him and beg Him to be our strong defense, our shield and buckler.
8. We must recognize the fact that we do have enemies and that objective evil does exist in this world. We must give up the "we are the world" philosophy that all nations, groups and individuals act with the best intentions toward us. There are groups and individuals who hate God and who hate America and who perceive themselves to be in a state of war against us. Terrorism tends to breed terrorism. We should not be surprised if other groups will be encouraged in their efforts by the events of the day. We must cry out to God and seek His protection and mercy against the agents of Satan.
If you were alive when Pearl Harbor was bombed, you remember. If you were alive when President Kennedy was shot, you remember. We owe it to our children and their posterity that this day be remembered. Our children will only remember this day if we allow them to experience it with us. There is a time for weeping, and this is such a time. Future generations may conclude that this was the most horrible day in our history. But God has allowed you and I to live through it for an important reason.
Let us give thanks to Jehovah for His mercies and the opportunity for a bold Gospel witness facilitated by the darkness of the deed done today. Perhaps the Lord is offering America a wake-up call. Perhaps there is a window of time in which we can seek His mercy.