Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001

Today is a special day in the history of our nation.  If we were alive and had a working memory, we all know where we were when we heard of the terrorist attacks of September 11.  It is, as someone shared with me the other day, our generation's "Pearl Harbor."  More than that, it shattered that illusion of invulnerability we all felt as Americans.  It shattered the lives of so many and deeply affect the rest of us.  It shatter our sense of safety.  It tested the faith of those who believed America was under God's protection.  It brought many face to face with mortality and sent them to churches in droves to find spiritual meaning behind what had happened.  We came together as a nation in a way none of knew previously, but it also changed this nation in a way that we are still all trying to understand.  Our sons are fighting and dying the enemy we believe planned the attacks even still to this day.  Yes, 9/11/2001, was a day that for us will live in infamy and today we will see wall to wall coverage of memorials and memories of that dreadful day.  I am going to shock many of you right now in what I say.  I am going to celebrate 9/11 today.  Yes, I am going to rejoice in what has happened.

First let me start with my own memories of that day.  I was at work when it happened and someone called and said a small plane hit the WTC.  I was a bit of a news junkie and tried to go to CNN's website to take a look at what had happened but there was so much traffic trying to get to news websites, I could not get on.  The rest of the day was spent taking some moments to look at TV's in visiting rooms, hear what we can on the radio, and wonder with everyone else when it would be over.   At the time, I was a volunteer minister at Jamesburg Home for Boys (youth detention center) and Tuesdays nights was our night to go in.  I figured that we would be canceled with all the additional security, but the jail actually called our group to make sure we were coming in.  We did and had a wonderful time ministering to the kids there and it was great to be a part of that process of healing and understanding in the light of the events of the day.  Even those gang members and drug dealers were not beyond the reach of the gravity of the day's events.  It was after that where I realized that I had a job to do.  I was not called to sit and mourn, but I was called to stand and minister.  I was just as lost and hurt and scared as everyone else, but God gave me such a piece and comfort that I was able to perform the ministries I was called to perform.  A few clear things I do remember about my prayer life at that time - One was that people are listening to the Gospel and we need to preach and live it and the other was for God to be glorified.  I remember just watching TV and praying for what to pray for and the answer I received was "Jesus be glorified."  And you know what, considering how many people were not killed that day, considering the people who turned to God, and considering how the church was able to minister to so many people during that time - Jesus was glorified.  And that is something to rejoice in.  I would rather rejoice in how Jesus was glorified rather then anger of man's sin or mourn for man's loss.

So why celebrate today?  It is simple, God tells us to:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3 NKJV
and
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1  Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV
God is clear that in all things we are to give thanks and rejoice.  How should be we be thankful for 9/11?  Think of how many souls were saved and the opportunities to minister the Gospel.  Think of how many more in Heaven there will be!  I know many will make the argument of how many were killed to achieve that.  And for that, I do not have an answer.  I rejoice because God tells me to rejoice, I give thanks because God tells me to give thanks and even though I do not really know how or why, I do know that God does know.  I do know that God has reasons for allowing 9/11 to happen and I know those reasons will work towards His plan and purposes for the world and for the lives of those who love God.  Yesterday, I posted on all things working together for those who love God. "All things" means all things and all things include 9/11.  Somehow, some way, God will work 9/11 for good for those of us who are following God's will in our lives.  And we need to rest on that in faith and look forward to God working things for good and not back at man meaning things for evil.  Look at what Joseph said when his brothers came to him to confess their sin of selling him into slavery:
Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."  Genesis 50:18-20 NKJV
Man meant 9/11 for evil, God meant it for good.  In the time of Joseph where God turned the sin of Joseph's brothers into the good of it leading to Joseph being into the position to save many people.  In our time, man meant 9/11 to kill and terrorize but God used that terror to turn the hearts of so many back towards him "to save many people alive."  Only this time, it was to eternal life.

God tells us to rejoice and give thanks for all things that come across our lives and many times we do not understand or know why.  The amazing thing is that God is not done in James in explaining how to handle trials.  God never just commands us, He gives us reasons, directions, and strength to accomplish what He desires.  Here is how James continues:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6 NKJV
So ask God with faith and confidence that He will answer and God will show you how to rejoice!  Just fall at His feet and ask for that ability to rejoice when every part of you says you can not.  I know from experience that God can provide even in this times.

It is important to celebrate today.  It is important because we have the hope of eternity and the knowledge of God.  Many people will even today be grieving and wondering and even still scared regarding the events of that day.  We need to be able to come along side them and show them the hope in the true and living God.  We need to show them Jesus and how Jesus has gotten us though.  We need to share with them the love that God has lavished us in.  We need to share the comfort that God has given us.  It is our time, and we have wonderful glorious work to do!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV

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