Why, God? Part One

The date, September 11, 2001, is forever etched in our national memory. That morning stands as the never-to-be-forgotten hour when time stood still as we stared in horror and disbelief. With calculated and unconscionable malice, beastly terrorists stabbed our nation repeatedly in the heart—the World Trade Center in New York, at the Pentagon in Washington, and along a quiet countryside in southwest Pennsylvania. Thousands of unsuspecting civilians were brutally murdered. Our fellow Americans bled and died, some immediately, many slowly and painfully, all unexpectedly. Others bravely escaped with their lives bruised, broken, and burned. In my mind, there isn't a hell hot enough for the cowards who perpetrated these vicious and brutal crimes against innocent victims. May the pain of their everlasting punishment know no bounds and find no relief.

And we cry out, "Why, God?"

I have studied the Revolutionary War and, in depth, the War Between the States. I have lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Lebanon Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. I have watched drug-crazed hippies in their communes, angry students in campus riots, and lying leaders in the Watergate scandal, followed by a shocking presidential resignation.

I have blushed over immoral and unethical acts committed by religious leaders, traitors, politicians, and even presidents. I have witnessed racial hatred, been sickened by phony hypocrites, and waded through depraved and unspeakable accounts of serial killers, mass murders, prison riots, domestic violence, and child molestations. These eyes have seen pictures of the holocaust victims from the Nazi regime and tragic torturings of prisoners of war.

"Why, God? Why?"

I have watched films of the landings at Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, and the Normandy coastline on D-Day. I've shouted for joy over the fall of the Iron Curtain. I have also shuddered in dismay through chilling stories of the Khmer Rouge in the killing fields of Cambodia with its landmines and stacks of skulls left in its wake.

I have lived to see presidential assassinations, prejudicial assassinations, political assassinations, and suicides.

I've examined the pictures of horrible explosions on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the harbor at Texas City, at the Olympic Village in Atlanta, at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in the cafés and streets of Israel, and in the air as the Challenger disintegrated.

And with tears running down my face, I ask again, "O Lord, why?"

In my sixty-seven years on this earth I thought I had just about seen it all . . . until September 11, 2001. On that day I got a new understanding of the total depravity of humanity. And, as a byproduct, I have a new appreciation for the gifts of liberty and life itself—for the love of my wife, my family, and my friends—and for the power of the human spirit to press on and to recover from tragedy, no matter the sacrifice or cost.

Seeing others survive tragedies makes me a witness to the power of the human spirit to press on.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Excerpted from Why, God? Calming Words for Chaotic Times, Copyright © 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.

Reframing Life