“9/11” Tragedy [v32]

OCTOBER 2001

HOW COULD A GOOD GOD ‘ALLOW’ THIS? — If God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, how can He ‘allow’ a tragedy like September 11th happen? Beyond that, how could He allow evil and suffering to exist? Or, if He knew beforehand that we would make such a mess of things here on Earth, why did He create us with the capability of sinning?

In order for God to ensure that we would not sin, He would have had to ‘tamper’ with our freedom of will—to create us not as full human beings, but as puppets or robots ‘programmed’ to do what He wanted. But that would have rendered us incapable of loving Him or one another, for genuine love cannot be coerced. Also, without free will, we would not be capable of moral responsibility, creativity, obedience, loyalty, or heroism. St. Augustine said, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil at all.” It is better to endure the pain involved in redeeming sinners than not to create human beings at all.

‘Real’ love is by choice. Parents, if you ‘forced’ your children to say “I love you” or if you ‘coerced’ your spouse to show you affection, would that kind of love really make you feel a deep ‘connection’ to that other person?

God loved us so much that even when He foresaw the sin and suffering that would darken and distort His creation, He chose to create us anyway—probably the most profound mystery of all—one that should inspire all of us to develop a personal relationship with Him that He so desires.

The dilemma of evil is this: Yes or no? Yes to evil condones it; no condemns it. To love evil is to become evil and to succumb to it.  And to hate at all, even evil, is to become hard and negative and it hardens us into haters—we should ‘hate’ the sin not the sinner. Jesus’ “simple” answer was forgiveness. Forgiveness neither condemns nor condones. Jesus was once asked by the “Pharisees” whether the adulteress they brought before Him should be stoned, based on the law that said she should. He asked that “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”—all, except for the adulteress, left. Jesus then said that He would not condemn her either, and she should go and leave her life of sin.

Did God mean that forgiveness should be extended to these terrorists? Yes, he did. And we have to be perfectly clear about that. We understand that the word “forgive” means: “To send away, to dismiss, to wipe off.” Does that mean that if we pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, we are excusing the loathsome acts of hijacking, murder, and destruction? Absolutely not! God’s Word gives us laws of conduct and penalty for the violation of those laws. The fact that he dictated certain penalties must mean that God intends that there be punishment for sin. God’s Word teaches that there are consequences for sin, even forgiven sin, and September 11th’s acts of barbarism are sin!

The Bible teaches that the government has the power of the sword to preserve order and do justice. At the same time, the power of the sword has to be tempered by the restraints of the “just war” doctrine. Eternal punishment–or forgiveness–is God’s prerogative, but He placed the responsibility for the execution of earthly laws squarely in our hands.

Today we need to be the ones who insist that the response to the terrorist attacks be proportionate, that it doesn’t create a greater evil, and that civilians are not targeted. We should strive to discover who exactly was responsible for this terrorist attack and see to it that they are held fully accountable for their deeds and their network is destroyed—so that it can never harm innocent people again. We should always exercise sober restraint in whatever use of violence may be necessary to accomplish these goals, with special attention to avoiding civilian casualties. Retaliation is a deeply instinctive reaction to being wronged. But mere retaliation, even when justifiable as it would be here, is not a strategy for an enduring, secure, and just peace.

The way we react to this, and all suffering, will determine whether life’s most tragic experiences bring bitterness, hatred, and despair—or become sources of growth and an opportunity to help another, which then becomes a ‘blessing’.

The laws of logic seem to prevent God from being both just and merciful at the same time, just as the laws of physics prevent a body from being in two places at the same time. But God ‘solved’ that dilemma when His only Son died on the cross—for ALL sins—and everyone’s! He suffered the wrath of hell so we wouldn’t have to!

Dorothy Sayers put the problem of evil in the proper perspective: “For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is–limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death–God had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worth while.”

The Bible tells us that God can bring good out of evil and suffering, but does not say that God brings about evil in hopes of producing good! “God will work all things for good for those who love Him.”

What do you think would be the worst suffering of all? I submit to you that it is nothing we will experience in this life. The most horrible pain and suffering would be an eternity in hell, separated forever from God and His love—His unconditional, genuine love. The Bible teaches that those who reject Christ will be cast into the “lake of fire”—forever!

None of the people that went to work on Tuesday, September, 11, 2001 knew they were going to die. Most of us are ‘comfortable’ with what we have and accumulated—a comfortable home (maybe even paid off!); good financial investments; job stability; and the like. But events like these make us aware that we really never know what the future will bring—and how drastically our lives can be changed in an instant. You might be one that has everything ‘financially’ ready for when you die. But, are you ready ‘spiritually’?

Are you aware that you can know, for sure, that, when you die, you will go to Heaven? The Bible says that “those who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Have you considered the claims of Christ? As long as you are alive here on Earth, you still have the chance to turn from your “willingness” to sin and receive Him as your Savior—and receive eternal life!

Blessings….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v32) for OCTOBER 2001
(NOTE: Please send your ‘thoughts’ to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all send it to me…

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BOMB THEM WITH BUTTER
A military response, particularly an attack on Afghanistan, is exactly what the terrorists want. It will strengthen and swell their small but fanatical ranks.

Instead, bomb Afghanistan with butter, with rice, bread, clothing and medicine. It will cost less than conventional arms, poses no threat of U.S. casualties and just might get the populace thinking that maybe the Taliban doesn’t have the answers. After three years of drought and with starvation looming, let’s offer the Afghani people the vision of a new future. One that includes full stomachs.

Bomb them with information. Video players and cassettes of world leaders, particularly Islamic leaders, condemning terrorism. Carpet the country with magazines and newspapers showing the horror of terrorism committed by their “guest”. Blitz them with laptop computers and DVD players filled with a perspective that is denied them by their government. Saturation bombing with hope will mean that some of it gets through. Send so much that the Taliban can’t collect and hide it all.

The Taliban are telling their people to prepare for Jihad. Instead, let’s give the Afghani people their first good meal in years. Seeing your family fully fed and the prospect of stability in terms of food and a future is a powerful deterrent to martyrdom. All we ask in return is that they, as a people, agree to enter the civilized world. That includes handing over terrorists in their midst.

In responding to terrorism we need to do something different. Something unexpected..something that addresses the root of the problem. We need to take away the well of despair, ignorance and brutality from which the Osama bin Laden’s of the world water their gardens of terror.
[Author unknown]

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When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.
[Corrie Ten Boom]

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Truth is justice’s handmaid, freedom is its child, peace is its companion, safety walks in its steps, victory follows in its train; it is the brightest emanation from the Gospel; it is the attribute of God.
[Sydney Smith]

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The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
[Martin Luther King Jr.]

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Loss is transformative if it is met with faith. Faith is our chance to make sense of loss, to cope with the stone that rolls around in the hollow of our stomachs when something we loved, something we thought was forever, is suddenly gone.
[Rabbi David Wolpe]

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It seems clear to me that God designed us to live in society–just as He has given the bees the honey; and as our social system could not subsist without the sense of justice and injustice, He has given us the power to acquire that sense.
[Voltaire]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  [2 Chronicles 7:14]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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