Where Were You on September 16, 2001?

This Sunday will mark the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Like every other American, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when I heard news of the attacks. My wife and I had only been married a year, and we had just moved to Louisville, Kentucky so that I could pursue a Ph.D. I had a seminar that afternoon and was still at home when the attacks happened. My wife called me from work to tell me to turn the television on. I think both buildings had already been struck by the time I tuned in, but I was watching live television as both of them eventually crumbled to the ground. As I watched them fall, I could only imagine how many thousands of people had just lost their lives.

So much has happened in our national life since the attacks, and sometimes it seems less like ten years ago and more like a hundred. But I still remember vividly the emotion of that day. The uncertainty. The questions. The very real concern that more attacks were imminent. The threat of a larger war. The horror of watching all those people die. Everyone felt something like that, and everyone wanted a word of comfort and truth. That is why churches across America were filled on Sunday September 16, 2001.

I was at Clifton Baptist Church on September 16 and heard Tom Schreiner preach a powerful message on Luke 13. I wish I had the audio of the sermon to share here, but unfortunately it is not available.

The other September 16 sermon that had an enormous impact on me was the one delivered by John Piper (audio, transcript).

A Service of Sorrow, Self-Humbling, and Steady Hope in Our Savior and King, Jesus Christ
[audio:http://cdn.desiringgod.org/audio/2001/20010916.mp3]

In addition to expressing grief appropriate for the occasion, Piper builds his exhortation on the theological foundation of the sovereignty of God over all things, which includes His sovereignty over calamities like the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Piper called his listeners to turn away from their implicit trust in American military might and national prosperity. Americans by and large had taken for granted their own security in the world. Piper said 9-11 proves what the Bible already teaches—that such security is an illusory fiction. Our hope is not in the military and its ability to protect from all danger. Our hope is in Christ, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

As I remember the tragedy of 9-11, I also remember this message. I am thankful for the reminder that I serve a God who is sovereign over all things, that I serve a Christ who once looked into the cold eyes of at a heartless Roman govenor and said, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” I am thankful that while we have no basis for confidence in military might (Psalm 20:7), we have every reason to be confident in King Jesus who has promised to come again and to defeat evil once and for all. I am thankful for a Christ who loves sinners and who will one day make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

Calamaties will come, and calamities will go. But God’s word will never pass away. Take some time to listen to this sermon and to set your hope completely on Christ.

2 Responses to Where Were You on September 16, 2001?

  1. Mason Prophater September 9, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    This sermon was the very first sermon I had ever heard from John Piper. Man it is absolutely crazy to think that this occurred ten years ago and though so many sought comfort and though through this tragedy our country was united, that it is yet so broken and divided once again. That makes sense though, as Americans we so often find ourselves putting our hope in our nationality instead of God and His sovereignty. Thanks for the post Dr. Burk.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “Like a thief in the night…” | OSNOVA™ - September 11, 2011

    […] There was nothing good about the tragedy that shook America ten years ago. However, the darkness of that time might have just been instrumental to drawing people closer to God. Here is what Denny Burk, an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, writes in his post “Where Were You on September 16, 2001?”: […]

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