Updated: Nov 7, 2022
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the somber anniversary of today's date.
For me, 9/11 was the day that I fully understood that sometimes, terrible things happen that cannot be readily explained. While this wasn't my first exposure to tragedy (Jimmy Ryce and Columbine had occurred by then), to see such destruction and loss of life on this scale due the cold, senseless actions of a few extremists fueled by a hate-filled ideology was something far more upending to my sense of safety, as I'm sure it was for many others who either observed the attacks from afar or were directly impacted by this tragedy. As the Twin Towers came tumbling down, so did my view of the world.
In the years since, I have wrestled with the question of why a good, loving God would allow this to happen. Thus far, the only scripture that helped me process this is, interestingly, Ecclesiastes 9:11 (ESV), where King Solomon writes:
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
Time and chance.
When it comes to tragedies, we have to remember that there is always a line between God's will and free will. Where that line is, no one quite knows and I doubt we will until we get to the other side of eternity. What I can say for sure is: when we use our free will to enact violence, tyranny, and death upon our fellow humans, we perpetuate the evil that the enemy so badly wants to propagate our world.
So, what do we do?
We use our free will for good.
We love our neighbor and speak out against injustice. We extend kindness to those that society would discard. We combat hateful rhetoric with love, and we show that in spite of the fallen nature of humanity, the love of a Savior is within us and we do our best with the help of the Spirit to show that love within their world. And when tragedies such as this occur, we mourn the fallen and help the survivors pick up the pieces of their broken hearts and shattered world.
To the victims: we miss you and we speak your names.
To the survivors: we admire your strength and we wish you peace beyond all understanding.
To the first responders who put their lives on the line: you are pour heroes, and may God bless you and protect you always, both on Earth and in heaven.
To the brave civilians who did what they could to save others: your courage and selflessness will be remembered for generations to come.
To those who are still grieving the loss of their loved ones: we send you love and hope that the pain becomes easier to bear.
And for all of us: may God heal our land.