Where is God in Our Suffering? Remembering 9/11 with a Free E-Book by Philip Yancey

September 11 Tribute New York CityI will never forget.

On the morning of 9/11/01, we watched in horror as the unbelievable events of the morning kept unfolding.  First, in New York, as we watched a jetliner purposefully crash into the World Trade Center.

I remember my husband, who had worked in counter-terrorism for the Army, saying, “We’re under attack!”  Those words hung in the air, as I tried to grasp what was happening.  Attack? Maybe it was just an accident. A terrible, terrible accident. Attack?  But these aren’t military targets, they’re civilians who have desk jobs.  Attack? What monster would do this on purpose? It couldn’t be…

The second tower was hit. Moments later the news came through of the Pentagon being hit, also by a jetliner. It was clear. We really were under attack.

As a nation we gathered together in our own living rooms to watch in disbelief what was happening.

At some point, early on, I was emotionally numb from watching the first tower at the World Trade Center collapse. Oh dear Lord, did everyone get evacuated? Seeing the thick grey smoke and ash cover every structure for what seemed like blocks of New York City, I remember the eerie silence that fell over the vibrant city that never sleeps.  No screaming. No noise at all. Just a weird silence that mimicked the stunned hearts of the nation who were transported to these sites, via images on television. The silence, which seemed to last longer than I’m sure it actually did, was replaced by the emergency detection sirens of the firefighter’s helmets, trapped in the debris. These sirens seemed to be coming from everywhere. Many were sounding off under the rubble of the buildings that had just fallen… on top of them.

Then we heard about the third attempt by these cowards. This plane went down in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania. A group of regular American guys. Husbands and fathers, who had heard about the travesties of the day from loved ones on the ground, became heroes that morning. They collectively decided they would not allow these terrorists to hit another target and instead sacrificed themselves.

September 11th, 2001.  We will never forget.  But how do we heal?  

First, we need to wrap our minds around the fact that God allowed this to happen. We tend to neatly wrap up life’s circumstances in packages labeled like this: “all good comes from God” and “all bad comes from Satan”. It’s easier to deal with bad stuff happening when we can blame the Devil.  But then there’s that age-old question that needs to be asked.

 “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”  

Why, when He could’ve prevented 9/11 from ever happening, did He choose to let all those people die? These attacks not only took the lives of innocent civilians, police, and firefighters; these events involved us in a 12-year war that has cost thousands of lives and wreaked havoc on thousands of families.

Why does God allow such suffering in those He says He loves?

Unbelievers use this question to uphold their skeptical opinion that either there is no God or that He is not at all omnipotent. Many believers become angry at God in private, fearing that others will see their doubt and questioning as a sign of unfaithfulness.  Unrighteousness.  But deep inside, they still question God.

We believers know that our only hope comes from Jesus. We live in a fallen world, not the perfect world that God had originally created for us. Instead we live in the one that sin contorted. An ugly world, where ugly things happen.

I’m not sure if that answer is ever going to give peace to the mother of a child dying from cancer, or the wife of a serviceman who has just learned her husband was killed in action. Maybe it’s okay to question “why?” There are many examples in the Bible where injustice and violence are not only questioned, but outright protested! There is also a common thread at the end of these protests, and that is: God is with us, even in our suffering!

Philip Yancey, a well-known and widely respected Evangelical writer, has a new e-book available for free today and tomorrow on Amazon (Kindle) that focuses attention on where God is in our suffering. The Question That Never Goes Away is a quick 65-page read, full of Biblical references, that will totally affect the way you see our suffering world.  {If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download an app, here.}

In this powerful book, he discusses several of the most recent and heartbreaking tragedies that have hit our world. From Japan’s tsunami of 2011, to the tragedies at Stoney Brook and the Boston Marathon. In a hurting world, where is God? Where is He in what seems like a deafening Heavenly silence?

We all have come under the grip of suffering. A loss that breaks our heart. We do wonder, “why?” We do wonder “Where is God?”  I encourage you to download Yancey’s book today, while we are focused on this day of remembering so much loss, so many broken hearts, so many years of battling an enemy which we still have not defeated. Open your hearts to the message that God is with us, even now. Especially now.


Lisa-StrnadLisa Strnad is a weekly contributor to the What’s in the Bible and JellyTelly blogs. She is a homeschooling mom of two, who works independent contractor in Christian media as a writer, marketing consultant, and public relations specialist. She speaks to Christian women’s groups on the issues of motherhood, home schooling and raising a child with special needs. Lisa and her family make their home in Nashville. Her blog, Talking Like A Girl, is currently being restructured. 

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