(ABP) — For some, 9/11 proves that the God of Scripture is a myth. Sam Harris, the atheist and bestselling author, claims that the existence of a single suffering child anywhere in the universe calls into question the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God. How much more the murder of 2,977 innocent civilians — more than died at Pearl Harbor or D-Day. Where was God while 19 jihadists committed the worst act of terrorism in our nation's history?
God created humans with free will so we could choose to love him, others and ourselves. When we misuse this gift, the consequences are not his fault but ours.
Our Father did not cause 9/11. The God who is love (1 John 4:8) forbids murder (Exodus 20:13). However, if he removed the consequences of our freedom he would remove our freedom. He could have prevented 9/11, but fairness would require him to prevent the results of all other misused freedom as well.
Instead, our Father grieves with his suffering children. The One who wept beside the grave of his friend (John 11:35) weeps beside every grave dug because of terrorism. The King of the universe knows what it is like to lose a Son and feels the pain of every family grieving today.
Elie Wiesel's books tell the story of the Holocaust through the prism of his personal suffering. No passage is more horrific than this account of a small boy hanged by the Nazis:
“For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard [a] man asking: ‘Where is God now?’ And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is He? Here He is — He is hanging here on this gallows.’”
God shares our pain, but he also redeems all he allows. He redeemed Pharaoh's hardened heart by freeing his people from Egyptian slavery. He redeemed Judas' betrayal by his Son's atoning sacrifice. He redeemed John's exile on Patmos by giving us the Revelation.
In the same way, God is redeeming the tragedy of 9/11. Millions turned to God in prayer after the attacks. Many came to faith in Christ, while others grew stronger in their commitment. And Christians around the world are praying with greater passion for Muslims to turn to Jesus as their Lord.
God is answering those prayers. More Muslims are becoming Christians than ever before in Islamic history, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus. Muslims already hold a very high view of Jesus: the Qur'an teaches that he was born of a virgin, worked miracles, ascended to heaven and will return at the end of history. Now Jesus is revealing himself to Muslims by the thousands, and many are turning to him for salvation.
I met one such convert a few months ago in Bangladesh. Shortly after her father died, he appeared to her in a dream. He instructed her to go to a particular house in their village, where a man had a message she needed to hear. He showed her the face of this person, an American she had never met.
The next morning she followed the directions she had been given and was shocked to find the very man she had seen in her dream. She introduced herself to him; he shared the gospel, and she and her family became Christians.
Join me in praying each day for the Father to continue revealing himself to the Muslim world. Ask the Lord to give you opportunity and boldness to share his love with Muslims in your community. Let's join his Spirit in redeeming 9/11, turning horror into hope today.
Jim Denison is president of the Center for Informed Faith and theologian-in-residence for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
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