On his blog today CJ recalls where we were on the morning of 9/11:
September 11, 2001 was, for me, memorable. It marked the first morning of a very special trip with my wife to the quaint town of Chatham on Cape Cod. Carolyn and I had just finished breakfast at the Wayside Inn and were eager to begin this relaxing and romantic day together. And the day could not have been more inviting.
But while preparing to pay for breakfast, I noticed a gathering of people in the adjoining bar area, studying a television screen. Curious, I took a place among them and learned what they already knew: Two jet airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center towers, both the apparent attacks of terrorists.
We made our way back to our hotel room stunned and perplexed by the images we had briefly viewed. Just yesterday we had flown into Logan International Airport in Boston, now the airport of origin for the two flights that slammed into the towers.
What about you? he goes on to ask:
Do you remember what you were thinking and feeling as you watched horrific replay after horrific replay of the commercial jets crashing into the World Trade Center towers? How about when you learned that Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon and Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field? And if that wasn’t incomprehensible enough, do you remember what you were thinking and feeling as you watched replay after replay of the towers rumbling, collapsing, and disappearing from the New York city skyline?
In this article (intended to help pastors lead through crisis situations) he also reminds all of us what is most important to remember in a crisis: the sovereignty of God.
For the Christian, there is no greater comfort in a crisis than to be reminded and reassured of the sovereignty of God. But the common temptation and tendency in the midst of crisis is to forget or doubt God’s sovereignty. In the immediate unsettling emotional effect of a national crisis, we are tempted by sins of fear, worry, and unbelief. We are confused and perplexed. How can we reconcile God’s sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom with the looping video clips of events like 9/11?
Crisis has a way of rudely reminding us of mystery—the mystery of providence, evil, sin, and suffering. And these mysteries won’t be solved by more reading and study. D.A. Carson writes:
The mystery of providence defies our attempt to tame it by reason. I do not mean it is illogical; I mean that we do not know enough to be able to unpack it and domesticate it. Perhaps we may gauge how content we are to live with our limitations by assessing whether we are comfortable in joining the biblical writers in utterances that mock our frankly idolatrous devotion to our own capacity to understand.
There will always be an element of mystery in relation to our comprehension of God and his purpose. And especially in crisis. There will always be secret things we are incapable of understanding in our sinfulness and finitude (Deuteronomy 29:29). We must…become comfortable with—and appropriately humbled by—mystery.
But it’s not all mystery. God does not simply leave us paralyzed by the mysterious. In Scripture God has revealed his character, his purpose, and—most importantly—the work of his Son on the cross. These provide us with more than sufficient certainty and comfort in the midst of the most mysterious and perplexing crisis and suffering. God doesn’t reveal to me all I want to know; but he has revealed all I need to know. In crisis situations I must resist the temptation of devoting time and energy to trying to figure out what is clearly beyond my comprehension, and instead devote myself to what is clearly revealed in Scripture about the sovereignty and purpose of God. This will have a transforming effect on my soul.
For more on God’s sovereignty in suffering we recommend—