...I was sitting in chapel at Cornerstone University listening to, well, I'm not really sure what when the first of two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. I remember driving from Calvary Church to the university library for my morning shift, unaware of the devasation going on right that very minute. My shift opened uneventfully and likely would've closed the same had Jason not run in, looping frantically about something he'd heard in his class. He brought up FOX News on the internet and there, to my horror, was Tower One of the Trade Center lying in a smoldering heap and Tower Two crumbling before my very eyes. Speculations were flying left and right....terrible pictures of people jumping to their death flooded the airways....and I rememer being glued to the TV watching that ominous dark shadow slice through the Towers again and again, only to be blind-sided by the news of the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania flight. I don't remember feeling anything except numb and perhaps the tears that slid down my face as I thought of and prayed for those of my nation who were suffering. All day long I kept asking God, "Why?" as we are all prone to do at one point or another. Why was this happening? Why, why, why?
I firmly believe God was there on 9/11. I am convinced He knew what was going to happen and in His just sovereignty, He allowed it to be. I know that He is a God of good and love, regardless of the date on the calendar or the day's events. The circumstances of our lives do not change the unchanging character of the Father --- He is who He is; the great "I AM" --- yet the Almighty God of the universe loves us. I don't know if God cried on September 11, but I know from His Scriptures that He is moved with compassion toward we, His creation. So, what was true of God then is true of God now --- and it was true of Him too on 9/11.
The "Why?" of all this, I still do not know and likely never will. I look back at 2001 and in so many ways my life changed forever. Our family welcomed a new member when my brother married in July. Our family said goodbye to another as my much loved grandfather closed his eyes for the last time in August. (I still wonder today where he is...did he know Christ? Was his faith firmly planted in the promises of God? I don't know...) I broke up with a young man and, by the grace of God, made a 180 in October of '01. God changed me...but good! Why in the midst of all the trials in my own life did God allow 9/11 and the ensuing war in Iraq to come about? I don't know...but Solomon taught us through the Spirit's work in his own life that we make many plans in our heart, but it the purpose of God that ultimately prevails.
Why 9/11 five years ago today? My answer is unsatisfying to a degree, yet it is all I have and the only one I have liberty to offer. Again I ask, "Why?" Because, in keeping with the just and sovereign goodness of God, 9/11 is part of His ultimate purpose. I don't believe for a second that 9/11 was His ultimate purpose, but it is part of the plan set in motion from the beginning...a plan that continues on beyond 9/11 in accordance with God's patience toward us. God does not ask us to question Him; and it seems that He does not seek to answer all our questions either. He simply tells us to live faithfully, to walk with Him, and to press on in the midst of suffering for the name of Jesus. Beyond that, does it really matter why 9/11 happened?
Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941 for those who have forgotten) was a day, FDR said, that would live in infamy. How many even for a second pause on 12/7 to remember the tragedy, the loss of the life, the horror of that day? In 50 years, how many will remember 9/11 as anything more than "Patriot Day" or whatever we're supposed to call it now? I am in no way attempting to downplay the evil that happened in America on 9/11, nor am I suggesting that we forget the day ever happened at all. But what I do believe is necessary is that we take 9/11 and place it in the context of what God is still doing today. What is different about me, spiritually, now because of what happened back then? Am I living like there's no tomorrow? 9/11 taught me all over again how to care about people that I don't even know. 9/11 reminded me of what it feels like to weep over others. 9/11 was a shockwave...but eventually the ripples fade. When the wake of 9/11 is over...will we be any different? We ought to be...long after the news media lays it to rest...but will we?