Max Lucado's Prayer After 911
Isn’t David’s question ours? When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do? When planes pierce strong towers, when flames crown our fortress, when cities shake and people plunge, what are we to do?
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and shake our pillowed head and think, "My, what a dream." But we won’t. For what we saw was not a dream.
It was unspeakable, unthinkable, but it was not a dream. People did perish. Buildings did fall.
And we are sad. We are sad for the innocent people who died, for their children who will not see them, for their spouse who must bury them. We grieve the loss of life.
But our grief goes even deeper. As we mourn the death of people, we mourn the death of an image. Just as the skyline of the city is forever altered, so is our view of the world. We thought we were untouchable, impenetrable. With the lost of innocent lives is the loss of innocence itself. Perhaps we should have known better, but we didn’t.
So what can we do? "When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?" Curiously, David doesn’t answer his question with an answer. He answers it with a declaration. "The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his throne in heaven."
His point is unmistakable: God is unaffected by our storms. He is undeterred by our problems. He is unfrightened by these problems. He is in his holy temple. He is on his throne in heaven.
Buildings have fallen, but he has not. God has made a business out of turning tragedy into triumph.
Did he not do so with Joseph? Look at him in the Egyptian prison. His brothers have sold him out; Potiphar’s wife has turned him in. If ever a world has caved in, Joseph’s has.
Or consider Moses, watching flocks in the wilderness. Is this what he intended to do with his life? Hardly. His heart beats with Jewish blood. His passion is to lead the slaves, so why does God have him leading sheep?
And Daniel. What about Daniel? He was among the brightest and best young men of Israel, the equivalent of a West Point Cadet or Ivy Leaguer. But he and his entire generation are being marched out of Jerusalem. The city is destroyed. The Temple is in ruins.
Joseph in prison. Moses in the desert. Daniel in chains. These were dark moments. Who could have seen any good in them? Who could have known that Joseph the prisoner was just one promotion from becoming Joseph the Prime Minister? Who would have thought that God was giving Moses forty years of wilderness training in the very desert through which he would lead the people? And who could have imagined that Daniel, the captive, would soon be Daniel the king’s counselor?
God does things like that. He did with Joseph, with Moses, with Daniel, and, most of all, he did with Jesus.
What we saw last week is what the followers of Christ saw on the cross. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Heavens tower of strength was pierced. Mothers wept, evil danced, and the apostles had to wonder, "When all that is good falls apart, what do good people do?"
God answered their question with a declaration, with the rumble of the earth and the rolling of the rock he reminded them, "The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his throne in heaven."
And, today, we must remember: he still is. He is still in his temple, still on his throne, still in control. And he still makes princes out of prisoners, counselors out of captives, and Sundays out of Fridays. What he did then, he will do still.
falls to us to ask him to do so.