The original message below was written shortly after the 9-11-01 terrorist attack on the USA. In late December 2004, the larger world experienced experienced the horrific events and loss of life following the earthquake near Sumatra and the extremely high death toll of the tsunamis.
In 2010 there was a terrible earthquake in Haiti and in 2011 an earthquake followed by a devastating tidal wave and ensuing nuclear catastrophe in Japan. In 2012 the eastern USA experienced the hardships of Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, more eathquakes around the world and Typhoon Haiyan in Asia caused extensive loss of life. 2015 and 2016 saw devastating wildfires in the west. 2016's Hurricane Mathew devastated Haiti (again) and damaged many of the US coastal states. Added to the natural disasters, terrorist attacks, war and waves of violence impacted many nations, killing the innocent.
In the wake of these tragedies the people of the United States have responded though a spontaneous outpouring of donations from families, individuals, and businesses as well as government actions. We've experienced the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Mathew. We've seen massive wild fire devastations of whole communities in the western states, widespread record-breaking floods and mulitple killer tornadoes. What help money can provide after disaster strikes is being done across the globe.
Some people wonder why a loving God allows such tragic events to occur whether manmade or a natural catastrophe. Those that are familiar with the Bible know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. I believe that God created the heaven and the earth. And He has given warning through his word that the earth is subject to earthquakes, and various 'natural' disasters. Luke chapter 21:11 says, "There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven... "
We choose to live beside volcanoes, in river valley prone to flooding, in avalanche pathways, on earthquake faults and along the shores of oceans. We live with the risk, and sometimes there are tough consequences of our choices, and we often blame God when tragedy strikes. The consequences of these global disasters are indeed tragic, gaining the attention of the world. In mass tragedies, what we do in response to such events will be a measure of both our compassion and our resolve to change things to prevent such massive loss of life. Ultimately it's a matter of each individual resolving to help other people, not just governments helping. Individuals really do make the difference.
When people don't look like us, talk like us, wear the same clothes as ourselves, it's sometimes hard to relate to their tragedy. I think that changed after both 9-11 and the tsunamis. In each event we could see ourselves being in that particular time and place. Often we push other people's tragedies aside from 'our' everyday life. 9-11 and the tsunamis showed so clearly that each life is precious. Not one single life is replaceable. Survivors eyes, no matter what color, shed tears of grief, as have the millions watching events unfold via TV.
While we can shed tears and send money to aid survivors of each tragedy, the lesson to share is still one of love. Each day you have a new opportunity to love your neighbor as yourself, to tell your family you love them, to do kind deeds for strangers - because today may be the last time you see the one you love or have an opportunity to be kind.
Don't put love off. Life is indeed short. The world is a dangerous place. There is no better time to tell someone you love them, than right now. Do a random act of kindness, today.
Orginal message, post 9-11:
The world changed for most of us on 9-11-2001. In the United States, everyone remembers where we were and what we were doing when terrorists murdered thousands of people from 60 nations in New York City's World Trade Towers and damaged the Pentagon in Washington DC. I will not forget the sight of innocent people dying on that bright morning.
As we watched events unfold via TV, a phase was often repeated...."Oh God." In times of crisis we all seem to recognize that there is a God. People have asked me what I think of the events of 9-11 as a Christian. My faith in God and God's goodness remains intact and strong. I am tremendously sad for the families who have sustained such great personal loss of loved ones. Like many people I wonder if I would have been as brave as the firemen, policemen, airplane passengers or those helping others making their way out of the buildings. I praise God that in the crisis moment, so many innocent people were so willing to sacrifice their own lives to save others.
God is good. Throughout history men bent on death and destruction have caused tremendous loss of life, often in the name of a religion. I do not "blame" God because men are evil and commit evil acts. Terrorists and wicked men use religious words as tools to distract from their actions. God gives each person free will and those who have read the Bible and accepted Christ as Savior understand this.
What I have seen happen after these tragic events is a western media rush to read up on Islam as a religion as though that would explain terrorism and the events of 9-11. It won't. But reading the Bible will explain those events in detail. It is my hope that there will be a rush by millions around the world to understand Christianity better. I feel most people don't have a clue as to what is really involved in Christianity on a spiritual level or comprehend the Christian world view. If you've never read through the Bible, then you don't really know much about the Author. Why not make this a year to read through the Bible?
Start a new tradition by reading the original Christmas story on Christmas eve. For those of you who have a Bible, you can simply open to the New Testament and start reading the original Christmas Story (Luke 1:1-2:20, Matthew 1:1-2::23! If you don't have one handy, you can listen to the story
online. Or give some thought to changing the way you celebrate Christmas - stop focusing on gifts and start focusing on family, friends, and people in need. After Christmas, work your way through the New Testament, then go back and read the old testament. If you read 3 chapters a day during the week and 5 chapters a day on weekends you'll have completed the entire book in less than a year.
Few people think about the 'reason for the season' we call Christmas. Christmas refers to Christ, not Santa Claus, the Grinch, or Frosty the snowman. Over 2000 years ago a child was born. That child was Jesus Christ. His birth, life, death and resurrection from death has changed the world even more than events of 9-11. Coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior changes lives. I know Christ has changed my life for all eternity.
To encourage you, here's one of the world's shortest versions of the gospel!
No matter what your religious beliefs, here's a pretty good course of action for any year:
whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
let your mind dwell on these things."
Each year people express hope for the future, longing for tolerance, wishes for peace, and careful optimism that maybe in the next thousand years we can create a brighter future for all mankind without destroying the planet. With Christ, everyone can have hope for the future.
God's blessings upon you all,