Where Was God on 9-11-01?
"Where have you laid him [Lazarus]?" He [Jesus] asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him."1
The question: Where was God when my baby sister died suddenly? When my husband died in the prime of life? When my child was kidnapped, raped, and murdered? The question is as old as Job and as fresh as today. So many asked where was God on this day—September 11, 2001—when terrorists destroyed the New York trade towers and smashed into the Pentagon killing some three thousand people.
So where was God? God was and is where He always is. He saw it all. As Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died, so also He wept grievously on this tragic day as He does when all senseless tragedies happen.
Did God cause it to happen? No, never! Did He know it would happen? Yes. Why didn't He stop it? And why didn't He stop Hitler massacring millions of Jews, and why didn't He stop Stalin and others who have slaughtered millions? And why doesn't He stop rapists, kidnappers, and murderers ... and terrorists ... and suicide bombers ... and all wars?
For the simple reason that He has given mankind a free will to choose—either to follow and obey Him or to go our own sinful, and often evil way. It's mankind's choice. It is every single individual's choice. God never created or wanted puppets on a string. Every one of us has been given a free will. The fact is that God is where He always was. He never left us. We, as a human race, left Him. When tragedies occur, the question shouldn’t be, "Where is God?" Rather it should be, "Where are we?"
However, when we choose and go the way of evil, the heart of God grieves. In fact, because God cared for and loved us so much is the reason why He gave his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die to pay the penalty for all our sins and deliver us from evil and from sin's eternal consequences—hell and eternal separation from Him—the source of all love and life.
Yes, Jesus wept on this day in 2001, and I believe He grieved with the thousands of others who also grieved on this day because their heart was torn with grief. And He still grieves with all who are suffering today and every day because of mankind's acts of senseless evil. And He grieves for all lost souls who could freely receive God’s forgiveness for all their sins, but they refuse or fail to do so.
As the hymn writer expressed in words to this effect:
Does Jesus care?
O yes he cares,
His heart is touched with my grief,
The long hours weary,
So sad and dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Suggested prayer: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when I hurt, You feel my pain and grieve with me. Thank You, too, that You also grieve when evil in the world is unleashed and people are struck down in the prime of life. And thank You that You have the gift of forgiveness and salvation for all who come to You confessing their sinfulness and their need to be ultimately delivered from all the evil in the world. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
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1. John 11:34-36 (NIV).