Today marks the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when acts of terrorism shocked America and left almost 3,000 people dead and countless people heartbroken and hurting. Most of us remember exactly where we were or what we were doing when we heard the news and then sat glued to the television or listened to radio reports.
Why Is There Death and Suffering?
The events of 9/11 sparked a national question: “If there’s a good God, how could He allow such death and suffering?” This question will likely be on the lips and minds of many again today as they reflect on the tragedy. To answer this question we need to look at biblical history.
God originally created a perfect creation: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31). There was no death or suffering in this original creation (Genesis 2:17). God gave the first two people, Adam and Eve, the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and told them “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Death is the just punishment for sin: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
Adam and Eve chose to rebel and sin against their Creator. Their choice brought death and suffering into creation. Why do we die? Because of their sin and our continued sin. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12). Death and suffering are not God’s fault—they are our fault in Adam. Terrible things like terrorism are the result of sinful human beings living in a cursed and broken world.
The Hope of the Gospel
Our world is hurting. 9/11 brought terrorism more into the public eye, and acts of terror have continued both here in America and abroad in many nations since 2001. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you turn on the news and hear about yet another terrible tragedy. But for those who have trusted in Christ, there is real hope.
You see, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides hope. Life does not end in death. Every soul will live for eternity, either with Christ or apart from Him. Jesus stepped into history, lived a perfect life, and chose to willingly die on the Cross, taking upon Himself the penalty that we deserve for our sin—death (Genesis 3:17–19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He then rose from the grave, conquering death, and now freely offers free and eternal life to all who will repent and put their faith and trust in Him (John 3:16; Romans 10:9). This life is not all there is! We can freely receive eternal life by trusting in what Christ has done. And that is true hope.
A Reminder to Teach History
For many young people the events of 9/11 are just historical—i.e., they weren’t even born when the tragedy happened. This anniversary should remind us of the importance of teaching our children history. They need to know what has happened in the past and how it affects our nation today.
But it isn’t enough for Christians just to teach history. We need to help our young people understand historical events through the lens of God’s Word—to assist them in understanding the true origin of death and suffering and the hope that the gospel offers every man, woman, and child. Teaching them a biblical view of history will help them properly interpret events in our present world and know how to use these events to share the hope of Christ with others.
A Reminder to Pray
Let’s remember to set aside some time today to pray for those who are hurting and also for our nation. Americans—just like everyone else—need the hope found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that the gospel will spread, even through tragedy, and that many people will surrender their hearts to Christ and receive new and eternal life.