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Where Were You & Where Was God?

Psalm 46


President Bush has declared the weekend through the 11th as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance.  


Some events in human history impact us so greatly that we will forever have engraved in our minds where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. I’ll never forget that I was sitting in my eighth grade classroom when we heard the news that the the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded on its ascent.  Many here know just where they were when they heard that the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.  5 years ago tomorrow my wife was watching the news when it happened…I was dropping our oldest off at pre-school when she called me…I made my way quickly home and then saw the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower.  Where were you?


Tonite I want to ask and attempt to answer a different question that no doubt has puzzled so many since that horrific day:

“Where was God on 9-11?”…

1. The same place He was when Adam rebelled in Eden – He was waiting to cover his sin. (Gen 3)
Where was God when man first raised his ugly head of defiance and rebellion? Couldn’t He have stopped it before it began? Oh, it is not a matter of whether or not He could have. It is a matter of His design for humanity and His plan of redemption. He designed us with a freedom of choice. In His sovereign foreknowledge He made provision before the world was ever created for man’s redemption; knowing full well that man would make disastrous choices from the beginning. When Adam and Eve finally “fessed-up”, He was there with a covering for their nakedness and shame; exacting the ultimate punishment on an innocent victim to cover man’s sin. But, He was there!

“Where was God on 9-11?” …

2. The same place He was when Noah built an ark – protecting him from disaster. (Gen 6-9)
Sadly, man’s rebellion did not end with Adam and Eve. Their sons, and their son’s sons for every generation followed in their rebellious path. Until such time that the wickedness of man filled the whole earth and its stench rose as an offence to the Holiness of God. Yet in the midst of such ungodliness, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8). Here was a man, not a perfect, but a righteous man, who faithfully proclaimed the righteousness of God. (2 Pet 2) And when God, grieved by man’s wicked rebellion, determined to wipe man from the face of the earth, He furthermore determined to spare Noah and his family, and from their stock re-populate planet earth. So in mankind’s greatest natural disaster, God was on His throne protecting His own.

“Where was God on 9-11?” …

3. The same place He was when Job lost everything he had {except a nagging wife} – proving Himself to be God despite unfortunate circumstances. (Job 1-2)
Just as Noah’s generation experienced earth’s greatest natural disaster, Job would surely rank among the top in man’s history as experiencing the greatest personal disaster. Again we see a man, a good man, a godly man standing for what is right and hating what is wrong. Did being “blameless and upright” immune Job from problems, or even disaster? Of course not! Job lived on a planet that at times experienced natural disasters such as tornados, earthquakes and fire. There were evil men in his day, too, who were willing to kill and steal to get what they wanted. And, he became the special target of Satanic fury. As a result, Job lost everything of value; even his precious children. Where was God? Had He turned His back on Job? Would Job return the favor by turning his back on God? No! No! and NO! God had not deserted Job. And Job would not curse God, even though he was urged to do so by a less than faithful wife.
Where was God when Job was losing all? Where was He when Job’s children were killed? Where was He when Job’s flesh was wracked with pain? Job maintained his integrity and recognized that it was God’s prerogative to give and take, and it was his duty to “Bless the name of the Lord.”  And in the end God was there giving him double of all he had lost!

“Where was God on 9-11?” …

4. The same place He was when Abraham lapsed in faith – safeguarding the fulfillment of His promise. (Gen 12-15)
It might be successfully argued that today’s struggles with radical Islamic fundamentalism are traceable to this unfortunate incident in Abraham’s life. Abraham, the father of the faithful, had left his homeland at the prompting of his God and gone to a land that was to be given to his descendents after him. There was a slight problem, though. He had no descendants. He had a beautiful wife, lots of servants, and many possessions, but no descendants. How would God fulfill his promise? How could He? Abraham was already an old man. Sarah was well past the years of child bearing. Did God need a bit of help? Along comes Hagar. She was young, and her womb fertile. It was not uncommon in his day to find a surrogate mother to bear a child for a barren wife. Maybe God did need some help. There’s nothing wrong with helping God out, is there? God does His part, and we have to do ours. So, to Abraham and Hagar is born a son, Ishmael, father of the modern Arab states. Not the son of promise. That distinction was to be reserved for Isaac, whom Sarah would eventually bear to Abraham when he was 100 years and she was 90.

“Where was God on 9-11?” …

5. The same place He was when Joseph was rotting in jail – accomplishing His perfect will. (Gen 37-50)
If ever anyone was misunderstood and ill treated, it was Joseph. If ever anyone suffered wrongly, it was Joseph. Yet with all his hardships, problems and abuse, Joseph was able to honestly say, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.” This was certainly true in the case of his brothers selling him into slavery, Mrs. Potiphar falsely accusing him of attempted rape, and the lapse of memory of his Butler friend. Yet each step of the way, God was able to take Joseph’s trying circumstance and mold him ever more closely into the man he would one day become. He was there all the time, though I am sure Joseph must have wondered at times.

“Where was God on 9-11?” … We could go on and on and tell of experiences such as …

6. … Moses (Ex. 1-4) on the backside of the desert – being prepared for greater service.

7. … Samson (Jud 14-16) groping in darkness – being strengthened in his hour of weakness.

8. … Jonah (Johan 1-4) being swallowed by a fish – learning that God’s way is best.

9. … Daniel (Dan. 6) being thrown to hungry lions – resting comfortably on a “lion-skin-rug” while jealous men sought to end his life because of his faithful testimony.

10. … Peter & John (Acts 3-5) beaten for preaching the Gospel – being given greater opportunities for sharing the good news of Christ.

11. … or Paul (Acts 14-28) being stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned – yet being assured that all things work together for good to them who love God.

But maybe the greatest insight into the heart of God when a tragedy strikes such as the 9-11 Disaster is to respond in this wayto the question…

“Where was God on 9-11?”

12. The same place He was when Jesus hung on the Cross – enduring the pain for the benefit of others. (Matt 27)
Oh the horror! Oh the agony! Oh the anguish! Oh the pain! Not just the thorns on His brow. Not just the lashes on His back. Not just the bruises from the reeds and fist of his captors. Not just he plucking of the beard from His face. Not just the spittle being hurled at Him. Not just the nails in His hands and feet. Not just the spear piercing His side. All this, yes; plus the weight of the sins of the world pressing down on His shoulders.
Where was God when His one and only Son hung dying on the cross? Didn’t He know? Couldn’t He have prevented it; or stopped it? Was He helpless? Was He not aware? Didn’t He care?
Of course He knew! Of course He could have prevented it! Of course He could have stopped it! Of course He wasn’t helpless! Of course He was aware! And, Of course He cared! God knew it was happening, could have stopped it, … but He didn’t. Is He some kind of fiend? Of course not!
He had a larger picture in view. There was a greater good to be accomplished by the suffering and death of Jesus. Through the suffering of One, many would be made whole. Through the sacrifice of One, many would have their sins forgiven. Through the death of One, many would be made alive.
He wasn’t just sitting idle and helpless as His Son suffered. He was using the schemes of wicked hearts to bring about the redemption of mankind. He reminds us that … “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)

So we ask again …

“Where was God on 9-11?”…

The Bottom Line:
God was not surprised by 9-11,
But He was saddened by it.
God did not cause 9-11,
But He does comfort those affected by it.
God may not prevent future acts of terrorism,
But He will provide peace to those whose hearts are filled with hatred if they will turn to Him.


While we’re remembering where we were and where God was…

1. We Need To Remember The Cost In Human Lives.
On September 11th, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in rural fields in Pennsylvania. It was the most devastating attack ever to happen on American soil; costing more lives than even the attack on Pearl Harbor (2,500 Americans died then) Nineteen cowardly individuals, who killed in the name of religion, carried out this insidious attack).
We need to be careful not to forget the lives that were lost on that dreadful day and not to forget the lives of those who have been forever changed. Not to forget the widows who are raising children alone. Not to forget the parents who will never hold their children again.

2. We Need To Remember The Extraordinary Acts Of Heroism And Compassion
We also need to not forget the heroism shown by ordinary people who rose to the occasion in extraordinary ways. Reactions to this crisis, has brought forth both the best and the worse in people. Yes there have been some dark spots such as the Pakistani woman who was purposefully run down while crossing a super-market lot with groceries simply because she wore the traditional dress of her homeland. But it has also called forth unnumbered heroic acts, some recorded and many that were not. There were many lights in the darkness. September 11th shocked this nation, and in remembering that tragic day: let us gain a renewed respect for those who have proven themselves to be true heroes! The firefighters, police, and rescue workers who risked their lives and even gave their lives to save others are true heroes!
One thing September 11 has shown us is that we never know…none of us ever know how much time we have—or how much time those around us have…therefore it is imperative that we spread the news of the saving Gospel of Christ with everyone we can!

The last issue of the “Focus on the Family Magazine,” [Christin Ditchfield. September, 2002. “A Light In the Darkness.” pp. 18-19] detailed the actions of Al Braca. Al worked on the 105th floor of Tower One. When he realized that they were trapped in the building and would be unable to escape, Al shared the gospel with 50 of his co-workers and led them in prayer. Some of those same individuals had in the past mocked him for his faith.

If September 11 can teach us anything…. anything good at all… certainly it shows us that by following the model of Christ….ordinary Christians like you and me can be heroes!!!
And who hasn’t heard of the heroic act of the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93? One of those passengers was named Todd Beamer, in a conversation with a telephone operator he told that plane had been high-jacked and that the passengers were discussing ways to overpower the high-jackers. He ended his conversation by asking the operator to pray with him. The last words the operator heard him say were “Are you guys ready, Let’s Roll.” The heroic sacrificial action by those passengers to bring down the plane no doubt saved many lives as the high-jackers were denied their ultimate target. Some have suggested its target was the White House and the President of the United States. [Tom Neven. Focus on the Family Magazine. "Let’s Roll” pp. 2-4]

3. What We Need To Remember Islam Is Not Just Another Denomination
The Media has made much of reporting on the religion of Islam. Perhaps in an attempt to get people not to react negatively to Moslem in this country, an effort has been made to normalize the adherents to Islam. But let’s not be confused. Islam is not just another denomination. Islam is not like the Methodist down the street or the Christian or Lutheran Church. Just because they worship one God does not mean that it is same God. Although everyone has the freedom to worship as they see fit in this country but we do not have to, nor should we, accept that Allah is just another name for Jehovah God.

4. We Need To Be Reminded Of Where To
Look For Our Strength


Ps 46:1   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.


As believer’s we need to remember that our feeling of security goes beyond the measures of home land defense, beyond metal detectors, security checks, military power, political alliances or the strength of our economy. Our faith must rest solidly on a relationship with a living God. Security is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of  God and the confidence and courage He gives in the midst of trouble. When tragedy occurs there are tears. Tears of those directly affected and tears of sympathy.

David reminds us that God is not only or refuge but our “strength.” Strength is the ability to rise above tragedy even with tears in our eyes and go forward. God is not just some far off source from whom we can seek advice but this psalm tells us that he is “a very present help.”


[Idea and much material courtesy Travis Moore]


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