Today is of course 9/11 — the day we remember the cowardly and wicked attacks on our country that occurred on September 11th, 2001, and the heroes who fought and died to save lives and tend to the injured. It is a day when we remember the 412 First Responders who paid the ultimate price, and the more than 2500 civilians who perished on three different “battlefields.” We also remember those who have died since and are dying still of horrific post-9/11 illnesses and PTSD-related issues (primarily suicide), not to mention that wars that have raged since on multiple fronts around the world.
Sadly, while many have either forgotten or disregard this day, many others continue to ask, “Where was God?” Why did He allow evil to come? Why? Friends, it is important that we understand that this is not a new question and, most importantly, that God does in fact have THE answer. Let’s break it down from God’s own perspective (as revealed in His Word, the Bible) along with some wholly biblical insights from my friend and fellow police chaplain, David Purdle (and others):
What is the definition of the word “why”? The American Heritage Dictionary defines “why” as: “For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive.” The Greek word for “why” in Matthew 27:46 means “for what reason.” “Why” is a simple request for an explanation, but it is not a simple exclamation. Rather, it is an unanswered cry. “WHY?!”
Whether on 9/11 as the towers fell, the horrors of war, the untimely death of a child or colleague, or the literal wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian that decimated the Bahamas, the cry to heaven is the same: “WHY?!” The question was not, “Why do some people hate us so much?” Nor was the question, “Why was the response to the storm so slow?” (as with hurricane Katrina in 2005). Oh yes, those are important questions, but it is not THE question.
In Psalm 22, we see the crucifixion of Christ in verses 1-21. Specifically, notice verses 1-2 and 15 where we see Jesus on the cross asking His Father “Why?” (albeit — Jesus being God in the flesh — He already knew “the Answer”):
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent…My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” (KJV)
Likewise, many today continue to ask the “Why?” question. Frankly, from God’s perfect point of view (the only point of view that ultimately matters), the answer is more correctly “Why not?!” Look again to our Savior as He hung on the cross. Jesus asked that one word question — WHY!? — with His dying breath: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). “Why” indeed!
In his book, “The Words and Works of Jesus Christ,” author and preacher Dwight Pentecost made this statement: “Jesus had a taste of such a broken communion, the first and last He ever experienced — in those desolate hours when darkness lay upon the earth and upon His soul. That is the reason He used the words of distressed astonishment: “My God, my God, to what end or purpose has thou forsaken me?”
Then in his commentary, Matthew Henry made the following statement about this passage: “The words are from Psalm 22:2 (and following)…The Lord Jesus was, in His suffering, for a time forsaken by His Father. Not that the union between the divine and human nature was weakened or shocked, nor as if there were any abatement (decrease) of His Father’s love to Him, or His to His Father…but His Father delivered Him into the hands of His enemies. He let loose the powers of darkness against Him, and suffered them to do their worst…Christ was made SIN for us, a CURSE for us. Christ’s being forsaken of His Father was the most grievous of His sufferings. He did not say, ‘Why am I scourged? Why spit upon? Why nailed to the cross?’…But when His Father stood at a distance, He cried out, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” The shortest question is one word: “Why?!” Ultimately, the shortest answer is also one word: SIN. Yes, sin. Our sin and the sin (disobedience, wickedness, etc.) of this fallen world. Praise be to God, He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to pay our sin debt (John 3:1-21) and make a way (the only Way — John 14:6) for all who would repent and place their whole trust in Him (Mark 1:15)!
Friend, if sin is part of the answer to our “Why?” question, the cure for that — and the ultimate answer to that question — is God Himself!
So if God is The Answer, consider the following about His Word — the Bible — through which God reveals Himself to us (with thanks in part to Brother Purdle):
- The Bible does not just answer our questions; it answers our cries.
- The Bible does not just provide us with the reason; it provides both reassurance AND assurance for those who have been born again in Christ:
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
(Isaiah 43:2, NLT)
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”
When you are faced with the catastrophic, life-changing events of this life and find yourself asking “Why?”, remember, the one word answer — the ultimate answer — is God (via a genuine, life-saving/live-changing personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ)! While we know trials will come our way, we will not be alone in dealing with them!
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee…Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee…Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness”
(Isaiah 43:1-2; 41:10).
Finally, I could not do a study on this subject without pointing out that, in the midst of so much loss, our hurting nation turned back to God, if only for a short season. Churches were filled and the prayers of God’s people assaulted heaven. Sadly, and all-too-soon, our nation has continued to slip further and further into sin.
So there you have it — God’s answer to the “Why?” question! That said, His answer leads to another question (the most important question of your life): Is God YOUR Answer? Is Christ your true Lord and Savior (a relationship, not “religion”)? Friend, it is with the same “Code 3” sense of urgency that our fellow First Responders ran TO the horror in the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in Pennsylvania on 9/11/2001 that I plead with you to consider whether you “Know God?” … Click here for more details.
Still questioning? Take the time to listen to John MacArthur’s wholly biblical study on this issue: Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil?
– MC Williams
(Feature image: Flickr)