All the 9/11 coverage is really haunting me. A few days ago I read something where someone posted their child’s question at the time: Mommy, why do they hate us? That was referred to as the question no one dares to ask, and it is haunting. A partial answer came in a post from someone in the UK who talked about the difference in how we saw the fall of the Soviet Union from those in the Middle East. According to the post, perhaps bin Laden saw the US and USSR as two powers that had been running the world. If one fell, the other should not be far behind. We of course saw it as the triumph of democracy over communism. There is truth to both sides, still it begs the question of what sort of world he hoped to establish in its place. He seemed to me to be a man who was bent on punishing anyone and everyone for the pain he still felt from childhood hurts, not unlike many who inhabit our prisons. I doubt seriously that he had much of a vision for a new world order.
The other post that stuck in my mind was from Anne Graham Lotz, in which she observed that her response to 9/11 was to fall on her face in repentance before the Lord. He brought healing and renewal in her life as a result, but she laments that as a nation, we don’t seem to get that. She felt alone in that response, but I suspect it was more common than she may realize. I know that was part of my response at the time, and the song “If my people” always runs through my mind. I was humbling myself and praying for our nation as I am sure many others were doing.
Too many posts seemed to observe that although we pulled together in the immediate aftermath, in the long run, things did not change all that much. On the other hand, there are those who noted that many of us began to look at Islam for the first time as a result of 9/11. It was as if we lived in a sort of Christian bubble before tragedy struck. We thought, we’ve got to save the world, let’s just tell them about Jesus and they will accept Him and we can move on into the Kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God has been coexisting with the kingdoms of this world for 2,000 years and it has never been easy for it to advance. There is always resistance. Weren’t we naive to think that just telling the story would convince others who had their own religious traditions? In yet another post, I read that many of the younger folks are actually studying Islam to learn just how to best communicate our faith. Now that was something I did not know and it brings me hope.
On the other hand, I find it a little tiresome to note how many make such comments, as if we should not have gone on with our lives! Honestly, going on with our lives, as if things had not changed, while acknowledging that they have, was an in your face type of response to the terrorists. It is, in my opinion, a form of the resilience which is necessary if you are to survive a traumatic experience. It is far healthier than living in fear, or completely reorganizing your life in order to ensure some form of safety. It is also part of life. Something bad happens, you grieve what cannot be brought back but in the end life does go on. Children grow up, whether they lost a parent or only watched the tower be hit by planes on tv. Yes they are marked by the tragedy, but they still grow into adults.
Some would have us believe that the lesson is that we are bad and God is mad at us and we have to clean up our act, so these bad things will stop happening. I do not believe that bad things will ever stop happening, until we are in the new heavens and new earth with Jesus in charge. I am happy to continue to humbly ask God to heal our land, but I honestly believe He can bring good out of evil. When bad things happen, I am looking for good things to come. Perhaps this event will be the catalyst for Jesus making inroads in the Islamic world. Perhaps we simply needed the reminder that our only true security is found in Jesus himself. Time will tell.
In any event, I find it rather strange that some think that our response to an evil act, perpetrated by those whose interest is in power and control, should somehow fix every ill in our society. If someone were to mug me on the street, I should not blame myself for it. They performed an evil act, for reasons unknown to me. I may decide to avoid the neighborhood if possible, but there is certainly nothing wrong with walking down the street. So we gathered together to grieve, stood up to evil and went on with our lives.
I do think it is time to work on forgiveness and pray for our enemies. I think it would absolutely blow their minds to know that people in the US are praying for them. But keep in mind, that is a specifically Christian response. However nice it might be, we can’t expect our entire society to participate in that. But sometimes God works in exactly that way, using a few to bless many.