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When Terror Strikes Home

Terrorists strike and our world erupts in dust, fire, and chaos. As we look around with shell-shocked gaze, suffering and insecurity leap at us from the rubble. Pain tears across the faces of the injured. Specters of suffering rise from the rubble to grip our heart the specters of stark terror, crushing bereavement, helpless fury, and mind-numbing bewilderment and shock. The scene burns indelibly into our very soul.

We begin to ask questions. "Why!? Where are You, God? Don't You care about us anymore? Why do You permit such suffering and chaos?"

Is God responsible for it all? Is He still in control? What does the Bible say?

God not only has the answer to the problems of men, He is the answer. He always has our best interests at heart. God alone extends hope to a world ravaged by sin and terrorism.

Why All the Suffering?

"If God is good and merciful and the Giver of every good and perfect gift, then why all the suffering?" God is also holy and will call every evil work into judgment. God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8 9). We cannot always understand why God allows unpleasant things to come our way. But we can know that God still loves us. Let us look at several purposes that the Bible gives for suffering and hardship in our lives.

Sometimes suffering comes to test our faith in Almighty God. The Bible tells the story of a man named Job, the greatest man of the East. To prove Job's unswerving faith in God, God allowed Satan to strip Job of all he owned his possessions and his children in one cataclysmic day.

But Job was triumphant in suffering. Summarizing that tragic day, Job declared, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). His faith in God remained intact. Even after Satan covered him with boils from head to toe and his wife urged him to curse God and die, Job's faith remained steadfast. He had passed the test. "Is God testing my faith in Him?"

Sometimes suffering comes to increase our faith. When all goes well, we tend to trust in material things for our security. But God wants us to trust Him more fully with our daily lives. So at times He lovingly allows these false securities to fail so that we seek His face more closely. Though our body cringes, our spirit is renewed in faith and our doubts are dispelled as we see God at work in our lives. "Perhaps God wishes to increase my faith and remove my doubts!"

And sometimes suffering comes as punishment for sin. The Bible tells the story of Achan in Joshua 7:1 26. Through Achan's sin, the entire nation suffered defeat in battle. Achan was stoned with stones and burned with fire as a memorial of God's judgment on sin. In all this suffering, God sought to punish the offender and to cleanse His people from sin, drawing them closer to Himself.

No doubt about it. Our generation has sinned. Morals in our society seem to be at an all-time low. Many people no longer consider sin as evil as the Bible indicates it is. The Bible shows us that sin is "exceeding sinful," and separates us from the presence of God. God condemns adultery, divorce and remarriage, abortion and other murder, homosexuality, hatred, drunkenness, and the likes (Galatians 5:19 21). We will not enjoy God's blessing in our life as long as these are present. "Is God perhaps punishing me for my sin, desiring to cleanse my life? Or is God perhaps allowing me to suffer for the perversion of a host of other modern 'Achans'?"

The Solution

God speaks.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Much of society is praying. That is a beautiful start to recovery from the chaos of destruction. It gives God recognition as the much needed Source of help. But is prayer alone sufficient? This verse tells us not only to pray, but also to humble ourselves before God, to seek His face, and to turn from our sin. Then He will fill our hearts with healing peace and forgiveness. Merely praying is not enough. Surrender and obedience to Jesus Christ must follow in true humility. This is a very personal matter and must be done on an individual basis by every person. "Have I prayed? Have I sought God's face in true humility?"

"But how do I surrender my heart to Jesus Christ?"

Again the Bible answers the question clearly. Consider carefully what the Bible says in the following verses. They show the way to find peace with God whether you are a Christian now or whether you are calling on God for the first time. These are God's terms for peace.

1. You must humble yourself. You must acknowledge your own sinfulness in the sight of God.

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10 12, 23).

2. You must pray and seek God's face. You must believe that God loves you and that Jesus' blood was shed to cleanse you from sin and purchase your redemption.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16 17).

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).

3. You must turn from your wicked ways. You must repent (a total change of life), confess your sin and forsake it, and yield your will to God's will.

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).

4. You must open your life to God's scrutiny and seek to obey His every command. Only then can you be called by His Name.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23 24).

"He that saith, I know him [Jesus Christ], and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).

As you humbly yield your life to God, He will hear from heaven and will forgive your sin, bringing healing and hope to your soul. God's Spirit will fill you, and your life will radiate the fruit of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22 23).

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1 2).

This healing peace from God is a calm assurance that rests the hearts of those who surrender their wills to God's will. Then as terror strikes at home, peace will be yours. It is true peace.

© Copyright 2001 Lamp and Light Publishers

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