An Anniversary We’d Like to Forget

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. I recall the event vividly in my own mind even today. I was in class at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary that day. I was the only Canadian at the school that day. It was if what I heard and saw truly were not happening. I waited for almost 4 hours at the border trying to re-enter Canada. The after effects were immense as crossing the border for a few weeks after that was almost impossible. This was nothing compared with what so many went through that day and following.

It was truly a world event that has affected us all even if we do not realize it. It will forever be remembered as my generation’s “where were you when?” What struck me the most after the event though was more theological than anything else. Many church leaders could not fathom that God could have had anything to do with that tragedy. That it must have been out of His control. Now, I know I am not saying anything here that is new. In fact, better men than I have eloquently explained how a sovereign God did control these events. But I want to focus on a few passages of Scripture just to remind us once again, that we serve a God that is sovereign and in control, of the good, and the bad.

Amos 3:6 often resonates in my mind as I think of the relationship of God to world events. It reads, “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it” (NIV). Disasters, calamities, and suffering, are not outside of God’s control. We do not serve a God who is impotent, but a God who is omnipotent!

Daniel 4:34b-35 also reminds us of the sovereign control of God. “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him ‘What have you done’” (NIV)? Nebuchadnezzar, the major world leader at the time, realized that God is sovereign and in control of all events. He does as He pleases.

There are many other passages which demonstrate that God is sovereign. He is not weak like Open Theists would argue. Our God does in fact know the future. He knows the future because He has planned the future! That is designed to be a comforting thought, not a troubling thought. God is in control of all events in world history. Even 9/11. And  yet, He is not a capricious God. He loves and cares for mankind and His creation. Isaiah 54:8 reads, “‘In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” (NIV). We should consider that all of us deserve death. None of us are less guilty than others (Luke 13:1-5), and so God is incredibly gracious to allow us to live, when we should die, just as others have always done. 

On this anniversary of a terrible event in human history, let us remind ourselves that if God was not in control of that situation, then we serve an impotent God. I do not want to serve an impotent God but an omnipotent God! I also do not want to serve a capricious God, but a loving and merciful God. What an amazing God we serve, the sovereign and merciful Lord of the universe! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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