Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1–5, NIV 1984).
My Musings – To Americans who are old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001, today is a day of reflection, introspection and hopefully redirection. In the days following those awful events many of us asked why? Today, twenty years later perhaps a better question is what have we learned? Or, how have we changed?
Following are some remarks from Billy Graham (how we miss him) in the aftermath of 9/11.
How do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.
What are some of the lessons we can learn?
First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says God is not the Author of evil.
Second, it’s a lesson about our need for each other. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart, but instead it has united us. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way—it has backlashed. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder and sang, “God Bless America.”
Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope—hope for the present and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There is hope for the present because the stage, I believe, has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. We desperately need a spiritual renewal in this country, and God has told us in His Word time after time that we need to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way.
My Advice – What have we learned? How have we changed? Sadly, not the way one might have thought at the time.
Were we, as a nation, “worse sinners” or “more guilty” when the towers fell? We’d like to believe the answer, as in the text above, is “no.” But because God is “a God of love and mercy and compassion,” that He would use the events of that “day of infamy” as a wake up call to repentance. For, “unless [we] repent, [we] too will all perish.” Have we learned the lesson of repentance?
For a “brief shining moment” we were “more united than ever before,” even as “members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder and sang, God Bless America.” Today, we are more divided than ever before. I cannot even imagine this Congress standing shoulder to shoulder, much less singing God Bless America. Have we learned the lesson of unity?
The “stage…[was] set for a new spirit in our nation.” Of “spiritual renewal in this country.” But Gallup surveys from the weeks following that dreadful day showed that religious fervor was only slightly rekindled and lasted for just a brief time. Have we learned the lesson renewal?
How can we best honor those who died that day? By learning the lessons of repentance, unity and renewal. Won’t you join me?