The God of my rock, in Him will I
trust. He is my Friend and the horn of my salvation. My high tower and my
refuge, Thou savest me from violence. - 2 Samuel 22:3
Some of the most heinous acts costing over 6,000 lives have been perpetrated upon modern day America, testing the strength of our country in ways we never thought possible. Those of us fortunate enough to survive this terrible tragedy now face a questionable future of possible long-term war. Assessing other countries, we are finding allies who recognize the invasive enemies, orchestrating from a country harboring evil and dangerous leaders of terror. The uncertainty, the direction we must take to rectify and overtake those who have needlessly hurt America has become a living, growing cancer crying out for retaliation. During this time of uncertainty, fear and grief, we find ourselves putting away selfish play toys and looking toward the God Who was the foundation of America, set up by the early settlers who came here seeking freedom of religion. However, even as some of us turn back to the Lord we are wrestling with a major question in the background of our minds: "GOD, WHERE WERE YOU?"
The September 11th devastation implemented by terrorists struck America unexpectedly, destroying the World Trade Centers, crippling the Pentagon, and causing the crash of two other commercial airplanes, setting up a chain of disbelief felt all over the civilized world. So many of us had forgotten the beginnings of our American forefathers who founded this country on religious beliefs. We have dispensed with the God factor and placed the responsibility on individual families to perpetuate faith in God. It took the cold reality of unexpected death and destruction to gain our full attention and remind us that we live in a temporary, unstable and frightening world. Like contrite children, our nation's focus is now on Almighty God for His help and America is uniting as one family against terrorists who caused so much pain and suffering.
How we respond to these vicious attacks cannot be based solely on "paying back" those who did us harm. Instead we must protect ourselves by seeking out those responsible and bringing them to justice. They must be forced to face the consequences of their actions. Only then will an example be set for the future and our country made free of fear and destruction.
In the past, the political and generous goodwill that America extended to countries around the world facing crises often caused their envy even as their hands reached out in supplication. The old saying, "biting the hand that feeds you" is apropos here. We now find ourselves subjected to the evil and jealous thoughts by some of the very people who received our favors. On television countries were seen openly joyous when our plight reached the news, punctuating and bringing home the fact that resentment is still alive and well. In the dark recesses of our troubled minds we can feel that ancient question once again surfacing; "God, Where Were You?"
All of us have a propensity to sin. The Christian uses the gift of free will God so generously gave by worshipping Him and living according to His commandments. What God has freely bestowed to all of us and that we so jealously guard is the same gift God gives equally to those who are sinful even though it is used to hurt others. Sadly, He watches as evil men take His precious offering and destroys innocent humanity. When we abuse free will God allows it for God does not take back something He freely gave. It is not God Who causes horrific things to happen; it is man exercising free will. We Christians might wonder why God does not intervene when it is used this way and why He does not stop the insanity. It is for the same reason He does not stop us from making bad choices, including our refusal to obey and believe in Him.
Those of us who view these tragedies with weakened faith feel betrayed and abandoned by God because America has swiftly and brutually changed. Many are searching their hearts to find an answer to why God would allow such atrocities to occur. And uncertainties can build a chasm for the weak who cannot understand, causing a spiritual barrier that appears impossible to cross. To these Christians, one must say, "Take heart. Your God is in control even as these things happen". In our times of anguish we must remember God would never wish harm on any of His beloved children. He is a loving God and Father, protective of His own; even those who do not know or want to know Him. This is a time for all Catholic Christians to reflect on the promises God made to us; promises that He is always with us, giving comfort through pain and grief. It is also a time to pray ceaselessly and make a checklist of how we are living our lives and whether we are following the precepts of our Christianity to be ready for whatever comes in this imperfect life.
There can be no clear answers to satisfy the questions arising from what is happening in our world today. With human limitations we cannot understand God's master plan for mankind. Those of us who remain close to God know that this is a time when we must rely on our faith. In the midst of the shambles terrorists can inflict, we must find a stablizing peace and assurance by putting our trust in the Heavenly Father, knowing He will make all things right at the end.
God does not make bad things happen; sin does. We are living in an imperfect and fallen world filled with trials and tribulations. 2Thessalonians3:3 tells us "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one", and then again in verse 16 we find "Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you". Therefore, a Christian takes comfort that God is ever present in every part of our lives, helping to carry the heavy burdens of loss, fear and uncertainty these weeks have wrought. And so when the fainthearted ask, "GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?" we can confidently answer "He is right there with you, keeping you in the Shadow of His Wings".
The evil perpetrated by man is never the end or the final word. The final word will always belong to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father who sees and knows all things.