When Terror Strikes
September 13, 2016
      When-Terror-Strikes-Dennis-Lee

When Terror Strikes

Fifteen years ago on September 11, there were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States by al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist group. Almost 3,000 people were killed and over 6,000 injured.

Four commercial airliners were hijacked. Two of them slammed into the World Trade Center bringing the two towers crashing to the ground. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, while the fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania when its passengers tried to overpower the hijackers.

And while there have been terrorist attacks prior to this time, and many more afterwards, this one attack was not only the largest on U.S. soul, but it is probably the most defining terrorist attack of them all, and one that saw the U.S. and most of the western industrialized nations begin a war on terrorism.

When we look at this and other terror related events we wonder what hope is there? Is there any hope?

The unfortunate part is that people wander here and there, going to one religion or philosophy to another trying to make sense of it all, only to find themselves in a wilderness of despair with little if any hope, and that’s because the world’s philosophies and religions offers no hope.

In fact, this was the synopsis of Solomon when he said that while there’s a way that may seem right as far as the world is concerned, the answers they give only lead to everlasting separation from God.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)

The only hope that’s available is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He is the only way to eternal life. He said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that nobody can enter into the Father’s presence without Him, John 14:6.

Now, I’m not here to blow smoke telling you that everything is going to be peaches and crème when you come to faith in Jesus Christ. I’m not going to spout false doctrines that say God wants us healthy and wealthy. And I’m not going to speak the positive feel good messages that seem to inundate Christian media.

Instead I’m going to tell you the truth, that no one is immune from life’s problems. That stuff happens and there’s little if anything we can do in the natural realm to counter it. Jesus tells us this very thing, but also gives us the way by which we can handle life’s hardships and overcome them.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

This world is filled with violence and terror, and while the world can offer nothing that resembles any lasting peace, Jesus gives us a way by which we can have peace. And that’s through a personal relationship with Him. And when this happens we’ll have a peace that’s going to make a difference, a peace that will overcome any violence or terror that comes our way, and that is peace with God.

And so today we’re fifteen years away from that fateful day in 2001, and while we have memorials around the nation to remember, I wonder if we truly understand its significance.

The significance I’m talking about isn’t to our nation or to the world; rather it’s to our lives. In other words,

What’s Our Takeaway?

What truths can we take from this event that will help us live fruitful and effective lives in the midst of such violence that attacks us from every side.

  1. Trust God’s Purposes

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us, which means that He has a purpose for you. God as a destiny for your life, and often times it includes these very things that literally scare us to death.

After their release from over 400 years of slavery the Jews find themselves between a rock and a hard place. The Red Sea is before them, and they have absolutely no natural means by which to cross it. And to make matters worse, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, the most powerful army in the world, are coming up from behind.

What were they to do? Simple, trust God!

They saw God move as He sent ten plagues to release them, and so now they are faced with the same trust issue. They were to trust that God had a plan, that God had a purpose that extended beyond this impossible barrier called the Red Sea.

We need to start trusting in God’s plans and purposes for our lives even when they don’t make sense, at least according to our way of thinking.

As they looked at the Red Sea they couldn’t see any way across it. It was un-crossable. How was God going to save them?

Sometimes we just have to trust that God has a plan in whatever we face in life.

What I’ve learned over all these years is that God doesn’t act in accordance to what we want, but rather God acts in accordance to His ultimate plan and purpose, which incidentally is what Jesus taught us to pray.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10 NKJV)

And while we pray this, little do we understand the consequences.

When we’re faced with these times when terror seems to grip our hearts, and that which happens makes little if any sense what so ever, we wonder, where’s the fairness of it all. Why do such things have to happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?

These questions are not easily answered, if they are answered at all, because in our finite minds, along with emotions that take over rational thought, we’ll never understand an infinite God who says He loves us and yet allows such things to happen.

But God has a plan and a purpose, and a lot of time we’re simply not going to know what it is. And here’s the thing; God says that very thing.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘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 NKJV)

And while many of us can’t see the reason or the ending, let me share a story that should give us hope and a trust that God knows what He’s doing and that there is a plan and a purpose behind it all.

In 1967, Joni Eareckson, then 17 years old, dived into Chesapeake Bay. She had misjudged, however, the water’s depth and ended up breaking her neck becoming a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down, for the rest of her life.

And while she endured extreme pain and depression, she didn’t give up hope, and came to the understanding of what we’re talking about right now, that God had a plan and a purpose and she came to grips with that and began to trust.

She said, “Today as I look back I am convinced that the whole ordeal of my paralysis was inspired by God’s love. I wasn’t the brunt of some cruel divine joke. God had reasons behind my suffering and learning some of them has made all the difference in the world

Today, she is an internationally known mouth artist, a talented vocalist, a radio show host, author of 17 books, and an advocate for the disabled worldwide. Her ministry, “Joni and Friends” encompasses “Wheels for the World,” retreats for families living with disability, a television series and radio program, “Christian Institute on Disability,” “Cause 4 Life” global missions, and though these ministries she is reaching millions with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Let me end this section by saying that trusting in God’s purpose isn’t hoping for the best; rather it’s a firm belief that God’s best will come in whatever shape or form that He chooses in order to further His purpose and kingdom here on earth.

The second truth that we take away from this event is our need to…

  1. Trust God’s Promises

God not only has made great and precious promises, He has the ability to follow through on every single one of them.

God is faithful and therefore faithful to His promises. One of the classic verses explaining God’s faithfulness to His word and thus to His promises is found in the God’s Law.

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19 NIV)

Moses is making a contrast between God’s faithfulness and humanity’s lack of it. While we may lie and change our minds, God doesn’t. If God says He’s going to do something then we can count on Him doing it. We can count on God to keep and fulfill His promises.

At the end of His life, which saw Him lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, Joshua confirmed this saying, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” (Joshua 23:14 NIV)

The Apostle Paul confirms this saying, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV)

And then we have what the Apostle Peter said,

“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV)

What we’re being told is that God has promised and has given to us everything we need for life and godliness, that is, both physical and spiritual life.

Let’s take a look at just a few.

  1. God Will Be With Us

Jesus promises that He will not leave us as orphans, but that He will come to us, John 14:18. But even more than that, we’ll be adopted into God’s very own family, Ephesians 1:5.

The promise is that He will always be there for us through whatever we are going through.

Look at what the Law states, which was quoted by the writer of Hebrews.

The Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

And Jesus Himself promised that He will be with us even to the very end saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV)

  1. God’s Peace Will Be Ours

Earlier we saw this when Jesus told us to expect trials and tribulations. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

But this was not the first time Jesus promised His peace. Earlier Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

And then there is the promise of God’s peace we looked at in our need to trust in God’s purposes.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

Now there’s one more promise that I want to leave you with. A promise that should fill our hearts and lives with hope, knowing that all of God’s promises, especially this one are true and will be fulfilled. And that is

  1. Jesus Is Coming Back

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2 NKJV)

And then He said,

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV)

And while there are many more such promises I’d like to end by sharing with you one last truth that we learn from this event, a truth that should see us through no matter what, and that is our need to

  1. Trust God … Period

No matter what life throws our direction, no matter what terror awaits, our trust is in the Lord, because He is our refuge and safety.

This was the Psalmist ultimate takeaway.

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” (Psalm 91:2 NKJV)

And then he gives to us these words of comfort and assurance.

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.” (Psalm 91:5-6 NKJV)

Even when you find yourself over your head, or when you feel the heat of the fiery trials, we don’t need to worry because God is with us through it all.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV)

When we find ourselves in these impossible circumstances, when the enemy has us surrounded, when the obstacles seem too great, remember we have a faithful God that we can trust.

So what is the takeaway from 9-11?

No matter what may come our way, we can always trust God at His word, that He not only has a purpose and a destiny for our lives, which will almost always include troubles, trials, and tribulations, but that His promises are true and that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that His peace will be ours through it all, and that we can look forward to our ultimate deliverance when He comes again.

And so the ultimate takeaway from 9-11 is that we are to trust God. We are to trust His plans, His purposes, and His promises, and that He is faithful to fulfill them all.

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