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For me, and for many others, the day is branded in our memories. For my seventh grade class, most weren’t even born. My eighth graders were infants or toddlers.
“Never Forget” was an American slogan that came out of that day’s tragic events, and although my students have no way of remembering the day itself, they need to know what happened.
Not because I want them to become angry or bitter, although a certain amount of anger against the atrocities committed is certainly understandable.
No, they need to know what happened, because it is part of our nation’s history. A nation with no sense of its past can make no sense of its future.
So last Thursday, we took the time to watch a few videos. My favorite was one by The Skit Guys, created a few years back. Others included clips from CNN.
We took the time to read about United Flight 93 and the heroism of its passengers that prevented the plane from reaching its target destination.
We talked about the hand of God in history.
Several students struggled. How could a loving God allow such horrible events to happen? How could God possibly “work all things together for good” in this circumstance?
The problem of living in a broken world
Those are understandable responses. We had a Cliff Notes' discussion on man’s free will and the sovereignty of God.
The bottom line: God gave mankind a free will, the ability to choose to obey or disobey Him. Man chose to disobey, and as a result, we live in a broken world. A world where terrorists crash planes into towers and innocent people die.
But did God know 9/11 was going to happen? Yes, He did.
Then why didn’t He stop it? For that matter, why doesn’t He stop natural disasters, heal children dying of cancer, or interfere in the myriads of other barbarisms that occur in this world?
Sometimes, He does. Sometimes, He doesn’t.
On my way home from church this morning, I turned on the radio to hear Dr. Erwin Lutzer talking about this very matter. He said, “Faith doesn’t judge God on circumstances.” In other words, faith doesn’t stop believing God because He doesn’t answer prayer like we want Him to.
Look at the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Moses, Gideon, Samson, and many other men and women of faith overcame their circumstances by faith. Other people of great faith were sawn asunder, tossed to lions, and died for their faith.
Too often, we let go of our faith when we focus on life’s circumstances and slip into believing the lie that our problems here are too big for God to handle. That’s what happened to Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus. He began to sink amid the raging waves.
The question we should be asking
Instead of asking how a loving God could allow bad things to happen, we should be marveling that a loving God made a way of redemption possible.
After all, sin was our choice, our mistake. Not His.
I asked my eighth graders to use an online concordance or topical Bible to find at least five verses that offer hope or encouragement in the face of tragedies like September 11.
Here are a few of their discoveries:
1. Psalms 16:8 (ESV): “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
2. John 3:16 (NKJV): “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
3. John 16:33 (ESV): "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
4. Romans 8:28 (NKJV): "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
5. Revelation 21:4 (ESV): “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”I hope we “Never Forget” what happened thirteen years ago. One American history class in Spring Hill, Florida won’t.
But more importantly, I hope we Never Forget the Hope made possible only through the mercy of God, who loved us so much that He sent His own Son to die for the sins of the world, to make a way of redemption possible.
At the end of the day, history is His Story. Whether good or bad, the events of this world are paving the way to the climax of redemption’s story: His glorious return.