On September 13, 2001, I wrote the email newsletter below. With all the remembrances around the ten year anniversary, I thought it appropriate to post it here again. At the risk of offending. Please understand that my heart and prayers go out to those whose lives have been forever altered and in no way want to diminish their loss. But more than that, my heart belongs to God. So read if you dare.
From Where God Sits, Special Edition
September 13, 2001
"What Is God Feeling?"
Along with millions of other people I listened and watched Tuesday’s tragic events unfold. Sheila and I were on our way to a night away and were headed for the PA Turnpike through Somerset County. After hearing the report of the fourth plane going down within 40 miles of us, it felt like the world was coming to an end. We turned around and headed home. Shock, horror, sadness, anger, frustration, hurt, disbelief were just some of the emotions we all felt. I hope your first reaction was to pray. Sheila and I did. Along with millions, our family has kept praying.
September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy with Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and the Challenger explosion. Only worse because of the nature of the tragedy and the cruelty of the terrorists
Interviews reported the emotions of people close to the scenes. Those of us removed by distance can only imagine the emotional, mental as well as physical trauma endured by those involved close up and those who lost loved ones. That trauma has only begun.
For the first 24 hours I was in shock, overwhelmed by feelings of being violated, by emotions of sadness for the victims, by a sense of helplessness that we can’t change what happened. Finally on Wednesday I asked God, “What is Your perspective on this tragedy, from where You sit? How do you feel?” He answered me. In a moment I’m going to let you know what I heard, but I’m taking a risk that you will not understand. I expected God to let me know how sad and angry He is. I expected words of comfort I could pass on to others. That is not what He said to me. Frankly, He shocked me and I have hesitated to pass it on. But I asked for Him to tell me. I guess I have to be ready for anything when I ask God a question!
I don’t want to sound cruel or heartless. What has occurred is a tragedy of enormous proportions. There are thousands of people who have been killed, wounded or have loved ones who are dead or suffering. That is awful. So, please understand I’m not trying to make light of it. I am not insensitive to the pain. But I heard God’s Spirit clearly speak two messages. (If you don’t like them, you can take it up with God. Remember I’m only the middle man.) Here they are…
MESSAGE #1. Moments after I asked God to give me His perspective, I heard Him say, “You kill 3,500 innocent Americans everyday. Why are you so upset and so angry about those killed Tuesday?” I was shocked. I was expecting words of comfort, of direction, of help, or anger. I heard none of that and I was immediately convicted. God’s right. He’s always right. Why are we so upset when foreign terrorists kill thousands when we do it to ourselves everyday through abortion? The life of an unborn child is just as valuable to God as any of the people who perished in these attacks. In fact the Bible is clear that God is even more protective of the little ones.
MESSAGE #2. “There is something worse than dying physically. It is dying without a relationship with Me and going to Hell.” All of heaven welcomed many of the people who died Tuesday into an eternity beyond our wildest imaginations. Those people are better off, they’re receiving a reward that will last forever and ever and ever. Others, however, entered an eternity beyond our nastiest nightmares because they refused a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is worse than the cruelest death we will hear about.
God’s words to me, as surprising as they were, have helped bring me out of the fog of the tragedy and have given me His bigger picture perspective. Yes it is a tragedy. The ripples will last for decades. The worst may be yet to come. But thousands of people around the world suffer daily. Persecuted Christians perish day after day. People die every day within blocks of us, sometimes even cruelly. Perhaps if we are honest with God and ourselves, we have to admit that our feelings are selfish. The tragedy has threatened our personal sense of security, our personal comforts, and our self-absorbed way of life. It grabs our attention because of the unthinkable way in which we were attacked and the enormity of the loss. We are shaken. This one hit home where we thought we were safe and secure.
I invite you to refocus. Ask God to give you His perspective. Live by His promises. Absorb these…
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)
I also invite you to put your full trust in God. Only in Him do we have true security. All other kinds of security are myths.
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." Psalms 20:7 (NIV)
Let’s be God’s hands and feet, His Presence in the world. Whatever we can do, we should do. Pray, give blood, make donations, and talk with others about God’s desires for people to know Him and invite them to place their hope in God.
But let’s keep God’s perspective and live for Him in dailyness as well as times of tragedy.