With all the remembrances of September 11, 2001 this past Sunday, we were reminded of the most common question after the horror of that bright, sunny morning: why? Why did these 19 people do this? Why act in such a horrific way without at least discussing their issues with us first? Why did God allow this to happen? Why is a common question when we consider our lives and God because we all have experiences that seem contrary to the mighty, grace-filled God we hear about on Sundays. I believe, though, that the more important question is how? There are many answers out there that pastors and lay persons alike have given as to ‘why God allowed it to happen’, but I submit to you that all of them are conjecture. None of us is God. We cannot read His mind or know his thoughts: “8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
And, even if God provided an answer to that question, it still wouldn’t change our circumstances. But when we ask the question ‘how’, we give God opportunity to act in our lives for significant impact. After all, though He did not promise we would have only wonderful things in our lives, He did promise never to leave or forsake us. How can we begin a dialogue with those who hurt us? How do we choose to live now that this happened? How do we allow God to redeem this tragedy? These are questions that we have a hope to answer with God’s help. These are the questions that allow a tragedy to be remembered, yes, but also transformed into a source of strength and inspiration for the future through the God who walks with us on the mountaintop and in the valley.