I wasn’t blogging in 2001. But I was writing an email devotional, and this is what I wrote the day after 9/11/01.
“Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is.”
So said C. S. Lewis nearly 50 years ago in Mere Christianity.
Those words are haunting in their poignancy this morning, for as we observed yesterday, we live in a world that is still under the domination of the evil ruler (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). What we have seen is an extension of his heinous and evil influence. And in the aftermath, we have also witnessed the groanings and lamentings of a creation that longs for the arrival of the justice and righteousness that only God may bring (Rom. 8:20-22).
Yet in all the sadness of the day — and we do grieve deeply with those who grieve and we do have a righteous anger and indignation — we must hold on to a Biblical view of God.
What follows are some of the core truths to which we must attach our hearts as we seek to minister to a searching and needy world.
God is fully in control of these events and all other events. That God is sovereign over every event in every place for all eternity is the consistent theme of Scripture (for a small sampling, consider Job 42:2; Ps. 115:3; Eccl. 7:14; Lam. 3:38; Is. 14:27; 43:13; 45:7; 46:10; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11).
The theme of these passages is that “God is in control; He is sovereign. He does whatever pleases Him and determines whether we can do what we have planned. This is the essence of God’s sovereignty; His absolute independence to do as He pleases and His absolute control over the actions of all His creatures. No creature, person, or empire can either thwart His will or act outside the bounds of His will.” [Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, p. 36; my emphasis (aside: this is an excellent book on the topic of the sovereignty of God).] The bombings yesterday did not happen outside the bounds of God’s control, but they passed directly through His controlling hands.
Because God is sovereign over every event of life, He can be trusted with every event, both “large” and “small.” Our safety is not in stronger buildings and tighter security measures in airports. The only guaranteed safety we will know on earth is the safety and security of our salvation. To have faith in God is fundamental not only to our salvation, but also to working out our salvation. Scripture affirms that man should never trust in his riches (Ps. 51:7; Job 31:24), his own righteousness (Ez. 33:13), men (Jer. 17:5), or his religious “inheritance” (Jer. 7:4; 48:13; Hab. 2:18; Phil. 3:3-7). Instead, the one who trustfully hopes in God is freed from anxiety (Is. 12:2; Ps. 34:4, 8; 37:4-9; 45:2; Prov. 28:1).
Of all people, believers in Christ should be hopeful. God has given us every confidence of eternity (1 Pt. 1:13) and there is no reason to be afraid of the unknown because He has removed from us the spirit of fear (Rom. 8:15; 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Jn. 5:4). If we are going to fear, then we must begin with a fear of God (Prov. 9:10; 1 Pt. 1:17). Fearing God means (among other things) not being afraid of the future on earth, but of respecting the judgment seat of God in eternity (Heb. 4:13; 1 Cor. 3:10-15).
The best preparation we can make is spiritual preparation. The anticipation of the coming of Christ and the end of the world was a motivation to holiness (2 Pt. 3:11-18; Phil. 3:10-12) and evangelism (Acts 1:7-8; 1 Pt. 4:6) in the early church. So it is for us today. One of my first thoughts after hearing the initial reports yesterday was, “Oh Lord, please come now!” And that was soon followed with the realization that should He come now, many in my world (my circle of influence), may go into eternity unprepared to meet the Lord of creation. As people raise the basic questions concerning God and life, there is nothing of more fundamental importance and significance we can do than to tell them how they may be reconciled (2 Cor. 5:18-21) to the One “with whom we [all] have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
These truths are among the many Biblical principles and passages which will lead us to hearts of rest and peace not only when evil calamity arises, but also at the appearance of every personal calamity we might encounter. May God enrich your hearts “with peace in every circumstance” (2 Thess. 3:16).