Tag Archives: Islam

God Is Not Silent, Even On September 11

Editor’s note: In a desire to remember and honor those murdered on 9/11, I am departing from our format slightly today. I wrote this in the days following the 9/11 attack. It was first published in the Vail Daily. I have made only minor grammatical changes. Eugene

Daily the sound of children chattering, laughing, whooping and shouting wafts, soothing and constant like waves breaking on the beach, through my open windows. There is a grade school directly behind my house and each fall weekday, at about 8:45a.m., the delightful laughing and squealing and playing commences. Occasionally I’ll take breaks from my study to watch the children from the deck. Looking down into the playground these disembodied voices suddenly connect with children on swings, or playing soccer, or chase, or simply sitting against the wall talking. Their sporadic movements and spontaneous smiles dance in the fall air like sunlight on choppy water. Back in my study again, each wave of laughter reminds me life is as it should be and that I’m not alone.

Today however, all is not as it should be and it sounds as if I am very much alone. Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and the waves of innocent noise from the playground have stopped rolling because several thousand miles away an unthinkable evil has struck our nation. Behind my house stunned silence reigns. On this day the children are being kept inside for very good reasons: fear, respect, confusion, safety. I too wallow in stunned silence unable to concentrate on my work.

I sit and wonder, is God silent too? Why does it seem God is so quiet when evil speaks? For the next couple of hours these questions pound me along with the horrific images from the television. God, why are you so silent?

Thankfully the phone rings and calls me away to help with emergency prayer services in one of the chapels I serve. The chapel fills with people of all denominations and faiths twice that day. We weep and pray together quietly. Slowly through our prayers and tears, I hear a profound sound.  God too is quietly weeping. I realize the silence of the children in the school behind my house was deeper than a silence of safety or fear. It was a silence of mourning. I am reminded of Jesus response to the death of his friend Lazarus: “Jesus wept.”

Why did I, do we, assume that God condones evil simply because God allows it to continue for a time? Does God’s silence really imply He is sitting in heaven nodding and muttering, “It’s about time those sinful humans suffered. It’s just what they deserve”? God forbid! Yes, we all have sinned. But God doesn’t silently and angrily throw airplanes into tall towers full of His children to punish them anymore than loving parents sneak up behind their children and beat their bottoms with no warning or explanation. No, God does not laugh at or ignore our pain. He mourns.

I know this because God was silent at another horrific time in history. The world went dark for three hours while Jesus hung on the cross (Luke 23:44-46). God mourned as He turned away from the sins of the world–including those of September 11–tainting the heart of Jesus Christ.

On September 11 God was not silent or inactive after all. If we look and listen, this becomes obvious. Since September 11 courage, kindness, love and mercy poured from the hearts of people in the United States and around the world. For example, some of the passengers on the Pennsylvania plane forced it to crash so as to save those in its intended target. And our little Interfaith Chapels raised $20,000 for disaster relief. A Girl Scout troop in Denver made red, white and blue ribbons and a local radio station gave them away for donations, raising several hundred thousand dollars. A friend of mine told me she broke down in tears in the parking lot of the post office. A stranger on crutches hobbled over and comforted her with a long hug.

For me the final piece of evidence that God was not silent came when I stopped in at the hospital to visit a woman from our congregation who had, on September 13, given birth to a son. I trembled at what I might say to her. How would she feel bringing a son into such a world? Would she be depressed? And how could I comfort her? She beamed as I walked in, the first true smile I had seen since Monday.

“Isn’t he beautiful?” she said pointing to her son.

“Yes. He is!” I beamed back.

Looking at that dark-haired miracle, I thought, Oh, how could I be so ignorant? Evil and hate can temporarily take life. But only God and love can create life. God is not silent! The quiet mourning of God is not a powerless shrug of the shoulders. He was not silent on September 11 nor was he silent when Christ died on the cross. In both cases God quietly takes death and turns it to eternal life.

“It is finished,” Jesus said from the cross. What is finished? The ability of evil to prevail. Win some major and devastating battles? Yes. But God’s love will prevail because only God can turn death and devastation to love and life. God is not silent. Jesus Christ shouted mercy, power, forgiveness and victory from the empty tomb. And he still shouts it today. No. God is not silent or inactive. If we listen, we can still hear Jesus whisper from the cross “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  And if we allow it, He will speak and act through our love and kindness to one another.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Isaiah 19:1-21:17

Galatians 2:1-16

Psalm 59:1-17

Proverbs 23:13-14

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO. If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

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The Worst Case Scenario If Terry Jones Burns Those Qurans

Until late afternoon yesterday, Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida planed to burn a pile of Qurans in commemoration of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

His decision stirred a hornets nest—not because he planned to do something that has never been done before. Books have been burned in the past, including many Bibles.

People are afraid. For the American troops in Afghanistan and for Americans at home. They’re afraid of escalating the ongoing conflict between the West and Muslim terrorists around the world.

If a full-scale war between East and West had ensued, life as we know it could have come to an end. What do we do then?

Please join us for our daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Isaiah 6:1-7:25
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
Psalm 54:1-7
Proverbs 23:1-3

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Isaiah 6:1-7:25. In chapter 7, the northern kingdom of Israel and Syria (referred to as Aram) have joined forces to oppose Assyria. At the time, Assyria was conquering surrounding nations and completely decimating them. They would remove the people from their country, move them to Assyria, and force them to intermarry with native Assyrians. Then they would move native Assyrians to the conquered country. As you can guess, losing to Assyria meant the permanent end of your country.

But allying with Israel and Syria was a risky proposition. If Judah allied with them and lost the battle, it would be the end of them as well. Since the two countries acted as a buffer between them and Assyria, Judah could refuse to ally with the other nations. Israel and Syria’s loss would at least slow down the progression while they waited for deliverance.

Israel and Syria, however, desperately needed Judah to help them defeat this imposing country, so they plotted the overthrow of Ahaz in hopes of replacing him with someone more cooperative (the son of Tabeel in verse 6).

So, God sends Isaiah to evil king Ahaz to reassure him. In the process, we read our first prophecy about the Messiah in verses 14-15.

2 Corinthians 11:16-33. In the effort to undermine him while he was away from Corinth, the false apostles boasted about their exploits and Paul’s weaknesses. So, Paul explains the many ways he has suffered for the cause of Christ. If they want to play that game, he basically says, he can play it. But then he tells them that it is better to boast about our weaknesses than our strengths.

Proverbs 23:1-3. After reading this passage numerous times, I think I finally understand it. Why should people put a knife to their throats because they crave the king’s delicacies? Because the desire to live like a king—both in terms of power and lifestyle—can drive them to resort to violence in order to overthrow him. So the writer is saying, if you want to overthrow the king, you might as well put a knife to your throat right now because that’s what is going to happen.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Like storm clouds looming on the horizon, the people of Judah felt a sense of fear beginning to rise. King Uzziah embodied security. His leadership and longevity (he reigned 52 years!) enabled the people of Judah to enjoy lives of safety and stability. In fact, during his reign, their borders had increased and their military had become much stronger. With Assyria slowly devouring nation after nation, their only hope was Uzziah’s strong guidance.

But now Uzziah was dead—and his son and successor Jotham was nothing like his father. What would they do?

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” (Isaiah 6:1–3)

Despite the ominous clouds, God was still on the throne.

When we worry about our kids…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.

When economists tell us that that the worldwide financial system is going to continue faltering…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.

When we struggle finding a job in the middle of continued high employment…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.

When a loved one dies…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE!!

It’s significant that Isaiah heard the angels saying “the whole earth is full of his glory.” No matter where you go, no matter what you encounter, there is not one square inch (or square centimeter) of earth that God doesn’t say “Mine!”

That includes the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, and any soil Osama Bin Ladin’s feet had trod.

This doesn’t mean that we should live with the fatalistic worldview that says, “I don’t need to do anything because I can’t change it.” But it does mean that we don’t need to worry. The details that reside beyond our grasp reside firmly in his. Even when we don’t understand.

Modern Israel’s existence today tells us what happened. Assyria never conquered Judah.

But if the world as we know it comes to an end…GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE!

Even if Terry Jones riles up the Muslim world.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. In what area(s) of your life do you need reassurance that God is still on the throne?
  3. What prevents you from believing it?
  4. How can God still be on the throne when your world seems to fall apart?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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