I remember September 11, 2001….I remember it because it wasn’t just a page in the History book, it was real. It was raw. And even though I wasn’t in New York at the time, I remember feeling as if I was there….it shocked our nation and it rocked our world.
For many of the kids in our youth group (and definitely for the little kids who are part of our church) the infamous “9/11” is now just a part of their History book and nothing more. But, for me, it was part of my life. Now I will say I don’t remember ALL the details of what happened/why it happened/the end result (other than lives lost/families forever changed) but it is a part of my life, not just history.
Sadly, over the past 12 years since that day our world has been struck with tragedy. Here is a list of just some of the MAJOR tragedies that have happened from 2002-2013. I, of course, could not list them all….these were the ones I just found….I am sure there are many, many more.
April 26, 2002 – School shooting at the Gutenberg Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany
June 22, 2002 – Devastating earthquake hits Iran.
October 31/November 1, 2002 – Two devastating earthquakes hit central Italy.
February 1, 2003 – Space shuttle Columbia blows up over Texas killing all 7 astronauts on board.
March 11, 2004 – More than 190 people are killed as devastating terrorist bombings occur on commuter trains in Madrid.
September 3, 2004 – School massacre in Beslan, southern Russia
December 26, 2004 – The south Asian tsunami disaster occurs, killing more than 300,000 people, after an under sea quake off Sumatra, Indonesia.
March 28, 2005 – Devastating earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia
July 7, 2005 – Devastating terrorist bombings hit London, killing 52 people.
August 14, 2005 – Plane crash in Greece kills all on board.
August 29, 2005 – Hurricane hits the Gulf coast of the United States, and floods New Orleans.
October 27 – November 9, 2005 – Riots occur in cities across France.
July 9, 2006 – Devastating plane crash occurs in Siberia.
April 16, 2007 – The worst mass shooting in US history occurs at Virginia Tech.
June 30, 2007 – An attempted attack on Glasgow Airport puts the UK on high terrorism alert.
July 17, 2007 – Brazil’s deadliest plane crash occurs.
September 16, 2007 – Deadly plane crash occurs at Phuket, Thailand.
May 12, 2008-Earthqake kills tens of thousands
November 27, 2008-Mumbay Attacks, Kills Hundreds
February 10, 2009-Australia Brushfire, Kills 138
April 6, 2009-Italy Earthquake, kills hundreds
June 1, 2009-Air France Flight 447 Missing, 228 on Board died
June 6, 2009-Mexico Day-care Center Fire Kills 41 Children
June 22, 2009-U.S. Train Crash, Kills 9
April 20, US Drilling rig explosion, large amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico
August 18, 2010-Chile minders miraculously rescued after trapped 69 days in mining accident
March 10, 2011-Earthquake caused tsunami, destructed Japan
October 23, 2011-7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Turkey, hundreds dead
December 21, 2011-Wave of bombings kills more than 60 in Iraq
February 15, 2012-Honduras prison fire kills over 300 inmates
February 20, 2012-Quran burning cities, deadly riots in Afghanistan
July 19, 2012-Gunman kills 14 at Batman Premiere in Denver
September 11, 2012-US Ambassador killed in Libya
December 13, 2012-Gunman assaults Connecticut elementary school, 27 dead
January 1, 2013-Stampede during New Year fireworks in Ivory Coast, 61 dead
January 27, 2013-About 230 dead during Brazil Nightclub fire
And I wonder why I’m desensitized to the massacre in Boston. I admit…when I heard about it, it was shocking and I was sad, but honestly, I wasn’t surprised. Was I surprised that it happened? Sure. Did I expect it? Of course not. But, does it seem like something like this happens almost every day and it’s just another story on the news? Sadly, yes.
It’s part of our sinful world. Do I give it a value and justification by saying, “Well, we live in a sinful world, you know?” No. But, does it seem, though tragic and never wished upon my worst enemy, normal now to hear tragedy in the news.
Does the story of the “Boston tragedy” roll off our tongues just as naturally as the weather or the latest scores from MLB? Do we discuss massacres, bombings, shootings, killings, and war with the same attitude/complacency as we do our lunch dates and chores we do at home. The answer may be yes for some and the answer may be no for others.
As I am writing this post, an explosion just happened in West, Texas, about 25 miles from my hometown. Did I look it up on the news station to read the latest report? Sure I did. Will my mom mention it to me when she e-mails me tomorrow? Probably. So, to many in West, Texas, the Boston explosions have now been replaced with feelings of panic, despair, and wonderment because of this latest development, just a mere 24 hours later, after the explosions.
No wander our hearts get so numb to it. Our feelings and emotions can’t keep up. We feel sadness and heartache for one event, and yet, 24 hours later we have to turn around and feel confused and upset because of something else.
When will it end? I think, for those who have faith in Jesus Christ and His triumph return, our prayers of His return are becoming more earnest. Our thoughts of the eternal are becoming more frequent and living out our faith in a broken world becomes harder and harder to do.
But….there is hope.
(picture “shared” by WCIC)
Does it seem wrong to go on about our day, sharing good news or helping a friend in need, despite the tragedy in Boston (or in West, Texas). No…..because of yesterday (and today’s) events we should be talking about it. We should still be sharing life together. It’s COMPLETELY appropriate to talk about life. Because if we don’t. If we don’t appreciate every moment and live in fear—the enemy wins.
We cannot hide. We cannot be afraid. We know who reigns above all. We know who HAS won…..our sinful world, though ever present since the Fall of man, is temporary. This is not our home….
I am certain there would not be one single tragic event if there were no sin in this world. After God completed His work of creation, “He saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). There were no tragic events in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, and there will be no tragic events in Heaven, because there will be no sin there. So sin is the root problem behind all tragic events. Romans 5:12 says “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, for all have sinned.” According to the Bible, everyone falls short of God’s absolute standards (Romans 3:23), so there really are no “innocent” people. Furthermore, in Romans 8:20-22, we see that sin affected the natural world as well, so tragic events like explosions that injure hundreds and shootings that kill innocent ones are also the result of sin which man brought into this world.
So, why does it happen and what does the Bible have to say about it?
God can certainly use tragic events to judge the wicked and discipline His people. God brought judgment to the Earth through the Great Flood (Genesis 6-9), as well as Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). However, the fact that God can use human evil does not in any way make God responsible or morally culpable for the evil. The Lord strongly suggested that that way of thinking is backwards and perversed (Luke 13:1-5).
So when tragic events occur, either as the result of natural calamity or human evil, let’s not jump to the conclusion that the people who suffer the results are guiltier of wrong-doing than others who escape tragedy. Just as “God causes His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45), so God sometimes allows tragic events to occur, regardless of the moral condition of the people who are caught in the tragedy. While God can and does use tragic events in sovereign judgment, Luke 13 teaches us that this is not God’s normal operating procedure. In fact, unless there is a clear indication of direct judgment, we should assume that the tragic events are not the judgment of God for some specific sin.
For some a tragic event may be used as a “wake-up call” for individuals who have drifted far from God and are centered on sinful lifestyles. Unfortunately, a tragic event may be the only way God can get people’s attention! In Zephaniah 3:6-7, the Lord revealed that the calamities that befell other cities were a warning to Jerusalem. Unfortunately the warning was not heeded: “I said to the city, ‘Surely you will fear Me and accept correction! Then her dwelling would not be cut off, nor all My punishments come upon her.’ But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did.” The violent events mentioned in Luke 13 were a wake-up call to the Jews of Jesus’ day, and Jesus’ message to them was “Repent!” Their failure to repent resulted in the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. It is a blessing when a tragic event brings people to their knees in repentance. As a result, one tragic event may serve to prevent further and greater tragic events.
God may use tragedies of illness or death to display His power and glory, with the purpose of bringing unbelievers to salvation. In John 9 we read of the tragic situation of a man who had been blind from birth. In that culture a physical disability or illness was thought to be God’s judgment for sin, but Jesus explained to His followers that sin was not the cause of the man’s blindness. No, it “happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (9:3). The man’s sight was restored, and he became a believer in Jesus (9:38).
In Acts 16, God used both the evil intentions of men and a natural calamity to bring about the salvation of the Philippian jailer and the establishment of the church at Philippi. And the Roman persecution and dispersion of the early Christians caused the gospel to be spread throughout the known world!
The greatest demonstration of how God caused good to triumph over evil was the “tragic event” of the Cross. Here God used the intentional moral evil of man and Satan to triumph over sin and Satan. At Pentecost, Peter captured the concept concisely when he said, “This Man [Jesus Christ] was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing Him to a cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:23-24). Notice that it was the intentional evil of man that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross, but the situation was never out of God’s control. God’s plans were not disrupted by an evil government or the hostility of unbelievers. The death of Jesus Christ was accomplished according to God’s predetermined plan. God’s ultimate purpose was to conquer death, the penalty for sin. “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33).
So, what can we decipher and concur from all of this??
Evil is real and this act reminds us, once again, that we need the hero who is able and willing. Thankfully, Jesus Christ, the righteous, touched down on this cracked sphere and is ultimately, subversively undoing everything untrue. His coming proves we can trust the world will not always be this way. And though we may not fully understand why God allowed this senseless bombing, we do know, unquestionably, that he cares and his covenantal commitment will not be diminished by the flailing death rattle of evil in any form. –David Fairchild
Our present world is subject to tragic events of natural disasters and intentional moral evil. God calls us to trust Him and live faithfully in the midst of the sin and suffering. But we look forward to a glorious future when evil will be gone forever, and tragic events will be no more!