Sunday, November 18, 2001

Where was God on Tuesday, September 11, when we needed him?"

That question has been asked thousands of times by those who consider him to be the CEO of this universe. Some are asking, "What on earth was He doing that morning?" Many of the 15,000 youngsters who lost parents during that horrible hour are numbered among the "Askers."

They were taught in church. "God is love and all of us are made in his image." Now they are asking, "If God is love, why did he permit those terrible things to happen on that unforgettable morning?" They continue, "If we were made in his image, how come some turned out to be evil, cruel, violent, ungodly, dangerous terrorists?" These are good questions searching for good answers.

One complainer wrote this note to God, "How long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from violence? Why do you make us watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime and cruelty to spread everywhere? Laws are not enforced, justice is always a loser, criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around. They are eager to destroy. They make fun of rulers and laugh at fortresses."

This complaint was written in 600 BC by Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet living in Judah in a time when Babylonian terrorists were threatening his country. His complaint and God's answers are recorded in the Bible in the first and third chapters of the Book of Habakkuk. How contemporary - it reads like something a disillusioned disappointed follower of God might write today. It describes problems with which we are wrestling.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Don Gowan, professor of Old Testament studies in Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in his Berber Lectures of three years ago, discussed the question "Where is God when we need him?" He suggested interesting options be considered when attempting to answer the question, "Why does God permit bad to happen to good people?"

The reason for the tragedy

our nation recently suffered might be found in this list of possibilities: God was judging and punishing our nation for its sins; or He has favorites and we are not on his list; or He is powerless in dealing with evil people; or he was busy with other things on the morning of the 11th; or what happened should be accepted as His will with no questions asked.

One Bible scholar suggests it is wrong to assume that

everything that happens in our lives, in our nation or world is God's doing. Some give Him credit for things not of His doing and blame for decisions for which He is not responsible.

Christians will need to choose carefully if they believe one or more from the list is the answer to where God was and what He was Doing on September the 11th. One's good intentions to comfort those who lost dear ones in that disaster can end in failure if an attempt is made to explain that the God who loves us was using terrorists in four airline flights on that Tuesday to punish our nation for it's sins. This is being heard from some pulpits and pews and on many "talk shows." How can our small minds know the

judgment plans and will of God for any and every occasion? Dr. Gowan in his treatise asks this question, "How can I know so much as to be able to assure anyone that disaster is what God willed?"

God's gift of "Freedom of the Will" gives everyone the opportunity to be evil, cruel and ungodly. Terrorists at home and abroad have made their choice. It's time to quit blaming God and place the blame where it belongs.

Our nation is hurting, the world is hurting. Now is the time for those who have experienced the wonder of God's sustaining love in their own lives to stand up and say so! Habakkuk after

complaining to God about

terrorists in his time had a change of heart and declared "The Lord gives me strength. I will wait patiently; someday those vicious enemies will be struck down by disaster." Paul made a faith report, "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord."

Most important of all is God's promise, "I will be with you always even to the end of the world."

People of faith need to be sharing this good news in these days when most of what we hear is bad. God Bless.

Clarence C. Richardson is a retired Storm Lake pastor and a frequent contributor to the Pilot-Tribune.