“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I remember well the events of that morning, 19 years ago. It started out like any other work day. Aimee and I were in the car, on our way to work. I remember hearing the DJ on the radio say, “We are not sure what has happened, it might have been a bomb, but something has happened at one of the World Trade Towers.” Our lives were changed that morning. 2,996 lives were lost and just over 6,000 people were wounded in the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington D.C., and in those four airplanes, one of which crashed in a Pennsylvania field. It was a devastatingly sad day that forever changed history.
I spent most of the day answering phone calls at the First United Methodist Church of Altus. We did our best to offer comfort and peace to our community. Like everyone who called in, I was worried about the future and deeply troubled by what we were seeing on TV.
I remember one phone call that day. A person called in looking for answers to a question about God in the midst of the tragedy. They were worried that what they were seeing was part of God’s wrath. They wanted to know what our church thought. I am sure my answer was far from helpful at the moment. To be honest, I had not thought about God’s wrath, but I had prayed several times that day. As she shared her question with me, my imagination began to work in overdrive.
It has been 19 years since those attacks and they are just as sad, today, as they were then. Thankfully, we have not seen anything like those devastating and violent acts since that day. However, I have heard a variation of the question that was asked of me on 9/11 many other times. It seems like every time a natural disaster or other significant event takes place, many jump to the conclusion that God is somehow punishing people.
In each of these events, I have witnessed God at work. God has not been at work punishing His people. God has been at work offering mercy, comfort and peace. As the Apostle Paul wrote so long ago, God is, “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
September 11 is a day when we remember those tragic events that took place. It is also a day for us to look back and remember that God was offering peace and hope to so many. In the past 19 years, I have grown in my confidence that God is not a god of punishment, but that God’s character is that of mercy, love and comfort. For these gifts of God, I join the Apostle Paul in offering my praise and blessing to God, our Father, who has given us hope in the midst of affliction and strength to live life with courage and peace.
– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship