Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering a Tragic Attack

Suggested Reading: Job 1:13-22

Today is the anniversary of 9/11, the day tragedy struck our country because an enemy wanted to make a point, killing more than 3,000 people and bringing down four different planes in three different places in order to do so. A lot could be said of our reaction as a country to the events of that day. Some people would argue that we responded well that day, coming together and unifying, but that we later splintered apart again. Some would argue that we responded poorly to that day, focusing on security at the cost of freedom. In some ways that day brought out both the best and the worst in us, as we became a people that proved we run toward those in need in order to save them and that we are a people who respond with anger and sometimes let it carry us away. But what is the proper way to respond to enormous tragedy like what happened on 9/11? I think we would do well to learn from the example of Job.

If you remember the story, Satan had wanted to make a point to God. So God let Satan try. Satan used Job's life as his illustration. In one day, Satan struck and killed Job's children, destroyed his livelihood, ripped away his wealth, and then took his health as well. In one day, Job lost everything and everyone he cared about. The only things he got to keep were his life itself and a nagging wife, who urged him to just curse God and die. But how did Job respond? "Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.' Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything" (Job 1:20-22, HCSB).

Job mourned. He shaved his head and tore his robe. But in the middle of his grief, he also directed his attention to God. He fell to the ground and worshiped, remembering that whatever tragedy befell him, that God was still in control. And then he refused to do anything rash such as blame God. Job refused to allow the tragedy he had endured to change his world. He chose to believe that God was still in control and he chose to continue worshiping the God who had blessed him so much up until that terrible day.

Job understood that the world we live in includes tragedy and sorrow. And Job lived consistently, whether he was in the middle of a time of extended blessing or in the midst of unfolding tragedy. One of the reasons God brought Satan's attention to Job was that God knew who Job was, that Job was a man of consistent faith and integrity, whether things were going well or he was experiencing extreme hardship. God knew that Job would not allow tragic circumstances to change his perception of reality or his character.

As we remember the tragedy that struck on 9/11, and as we continue to face tragedy in this fallen world, how will we react? Will we choose to be consistent, God-seeking people who worship in the midst of suffering or will we allow ourselves to be irrevocably altered? Will we continue to live like we trust God or will we react in fear and anger? Will we remember that the world hasn't really changed, that tragedy is striking us just like it has always struck people in this sinful, fallen world?

Nothing has really changed. God is still God. We still live in a sinful world where God is constantly working to bring us back to Himself. When tragedy strikes, let us mourn. But let us also choose to live consistent lives of integrity and worship regardless of the tragedy we have faced.

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