It was a sad time for Israel. Absalom, King Davids own son, had mounted a coup against his father. When word reached the king, and he finally realized the futility of remaining in Jerusalem, he marched out of the city toward the brook Kidron with the ragtag band of subjects still faithful to him. As he and his entourage approached the brook, Ittai the Gittite and those loyal to him began to follow after David in order to join him on his pilgrimage. The king implored Ittai to count the cost of such a decision and turn back. But Ittai demurred, and asked that he and those with him be allowed to stay the course in their dedication to their lord. As David, Ittai, and their followers crossed the brook Kidron to leave Jerusalem, the Bible records poignantly: And all the country wept with a loud voice (2 Samuel 15:23). Sad times, those.
Sad times, these. On Tuesday, September 11, America found herself under siege by unknown terrorists. Four planes were hijacked, the first of which was crashed deliberately into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. A few moments later, the second was flown premeditatedly into the south tower. The third was slammed intentionally into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., our nations capital. The fourth fell to earth in a forested area near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. All 266 passengers onboard the four planes perished. Property damage already has been measured in the billions of dollars. The number of innocent people killed, it has been estimated, likely will reach well over 5,000. And all the country wept with a loud voice.
As I write these words, we, as Americans, do not yet know for certain who our attackers were. Nor do we know why we, specifically, were targeted. Nameless faces have assaulted us for reasons both unknown and unclear. But some things we do know. The precious freedoms we hold dear have been attacked. Our unfettered manner of life has been threatened. Our very lives have been placed in peril. And our beloved fellow citizens have been murdered in cold blood. Evil, in what surely must be one of its most incomprehensible formsthe unprovoked, unwarranted slaughter of innocentshas reared its ugly head among us. Amidst its sorrow, America not only weeps with a loud, collective voice, but also asks through the tears and groaningswhy? As our televisions and radios have played and replayed the scenarios documenting the sheer horror and immense destruction associated with the attacks, countless witnesses, survivors, or their families have asked such questions as Why does God allow such things to happen? and Where was God when we needed Him?
It is important, especially now, for all of usnot just Americans, but for people everywhereto understand three important points. First, God has not abandoned us! He loves us dearly (John 3:16), and wants only the best for us (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Timothy 2:4). If we, for whatever reason, seem unable to find God, we must realize that it is not God who has moved! He is forever the samethe One with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning (James 1:17). From the moment He created mankind (Genesis 1:26), until the instant each of our souls returns to Him (Ecclesiastes 12:7), He is our God.
Second, the events of September 11 are not Gods fault. Because He is love (1 John 4:8), and because love allows freedom of choice, God created us with freedom of choice (see Joshua 24:15; Matthew 5:39-40, et al.). When men abuse that freedom, it is not Gods fault. He is guiltless, and does not bear the blame (1 John 1:5; cf. 3:5). If we suffer when another of our kind misuses his or her freedom of choice, we have no right whatsoever to demand that God somehow remove that freedom of choice, due to the fact that He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
Third, regardless of how powerful or prosperous our great nation may be, let us never grow indifferent or lethargic in regard to our responsibilitiesindividually and collectivelyto God, His Word, and His will for us. How many times in the Old Testament did His people abandon Him? And how many timesout of pure, unadulterated lovedid He plead with them to return? Let us remember Moses words on His behalf: When thou art in tribulation and all these things are come upon thee, in the latter days thou shalt return to Jehovah thy God, and hearken unto his voice; for Jehovah thy God is a merciful God; he will not fail thee (Deuteronomy 4:30-31). Let all of us, Americans and non-Americans alike, determine to return unto Jehovah.
My staff and I offer our sincerest, most heartfelt condolences to each of our fellow Americans who has suffered so terribly. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers daily.
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