Used with permission from Edward Fudge.
Ten years ago today, on September 11, 2001, a cohort of militant Muslim terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners over U.S. airspace. Then, with specific intent to maximize the malevolent effects, the mass murderers steered two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, flew a third aircraft into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and crashed the fourth plane into the Pennsylvania woods while struggling with courageous passengers for its control. The coordinated acts of terror claimed more than 3,000 lives, and forever robbed Americans of our illusion of invulnerability. One decade ago, I called attention here to three solemn truths that can transport us beyond terror. Ten years later, these truths still bear repeating.
First, we lament the mind-numbing and momentous loss of life. We mourn for those who perished and pray for their loved ones. Though thousands died, each was an individual, snatched without warning from family and friends. We cannot explain such tragedies, and humans cannot finally prevent their repetition. We can ponder certain larger implications, however, and be reminded of eternal verities. What appear, from earth's viewpoint, to be apocalyptic bowls of wrath, may always serve constructively as trumpet calls of warning. We live in a fallen world. Nothing earthly is ultimately secure. God weeps, I believe, but he is not threatened. Evil does not take him by surprise. Isaiah chapter 40 says that God is still sovereign, just as he has always been.
Second, no country, including the United States of America, is invulnerable to evil or -- should it ever be necessary -- beyond the reach of divine judgment. It is a false pride which suggests otherwise, as ancient Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre and Rome all bear witness. The prophet Obadiah's words to haughty Edom still warn wise souls today. The phrase "in God we trust" must be more than a motto on a coin. It must motivate and describe a manner of life. America has been richly blessed by God, but God is not indebted to America.
Third, whatever happens now or hereafter, we can hope individually in God himself. Every one of us will die -- unless Jesus returns first. We come into this world facing death. The only uncertainties are when we will die and how. Yet there is no place for panic, no time for terror. The prophet Habakkuk waited for the sword to fall on his own nation, helpless to change the course. Even so, the faith-filled finale in Habakkuk chapter three remains a model expression of confident trust in God when all else is gone. When we finally cross over into eternity, only God will be by our side. Because of Jesus Christ, we can repose in God's presence from here to there as well.