911:  Whom Do You Call First--by Kimberly B. Southall

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The tragic and horrifying events of September 11, 2001 (9/11) will remain in our memories for the rest of our lives. Visions of hijacked airliners containing fellow Americans purposely crashing into buildings full of other unsuspecting citizens going about their daily lives are horrible and mind-numbing. It doesn't seem real; these things just don't happen in the United States. News flash: It did happen. It is real. 9-1-1.

How could this happen? This world is full of evil. Our enemy, Satan, is always looking for opportunities. And he never hesitates to use them, either. No doubt, one of his favorites things is the opportunity to use someone who is full of hatred and rage. Add some pilot training, some financial support and a few plane tickets. Voilé! Major disaster. But the same thing is true of any other terrible occurrence in any of our lives. It doesn't have to be a major disaster of global proportions. Satan will use any opportunity he can. These bad things don't come from God, but sometimes He does allow them to happen.

Why would God let this happen? There are probably many reasons why God allowed the tragedy of September 11, 2001 to occur, but three come quickly to my mind:

1) Good things often do happen to good people, and God uses those events to strengthen His followers. (See Romans 8:28.)

2) As a whole, the United States has turned away from God, and as He warned in His Word, disaster and ruin are the consequences of forgetting Him. (See Deuteronomy 6:10-25; Deuteronomy 8:11-20; Job 8:11-13; Psalm 9:13-20; Psalm 50:16-23; Romans 1:18-2:11.)

3)These events are to serve as a wake-up call for America so that we can again turn to God. And I believe God allowed the forces of evil to deliver this blow on a day with a significant date for Americans. It occurred on September 11 or 9-1-1, the number most Americans recognize as the telephone number for emergency assistance. Can you not imagine God saying to us, "The enemy is attacking you. You need help. Call 9-1-1. Just whom will you call?" (See 2 Chronicles 7:14.) In addition, could it be that God allowed those two particular landmarks, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, to be damaged/destroyed as a significant message that we cannot depend upon our military might or our money? Indeed, will we wake up? Just whom will we call!?

What can be done now? Think back to these events as you witnessed them for the first time. For most of us, it was via television, as we sat with our eyes glued to the screen and with our mouths gaping open in disbelief. What were your first thoughts upon viewing this unprecedented attack? Be honest with yourself. Were your first thoughts of our almighty God?

On recorded media, I have now heard the responses of several people unfortunate enough to be near the World Trade Center towers that fateful day as they watched the second plane smash into the second tower and as they watched the towers crumble to the ground from a safe distance. Over and over, as the news media plays those tapes, I hear fellow Americans say, "Oh my God." They are different Americans in different locations near the World Trade Center in New York City, but they have one common response, "Oh my God." But I wonder, has that statement sadly become just a cliché to most Americans? Were those people truly calling out to the one true God, our Creator, our Savior? Did they truly give Him a thought at those moments? Did you?

When faced with a crisis of your own, do you place your trust in God first? Or is He your second, third, or last resort? When you have smaller troubles in your everyday life, do you depend upon God first? Or do you tell your troubles to your spouse, friends, co-workers, or whoever will listen and only turn to God later, after dealing with the situation yourself in your own way?

This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. . . . But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him." Jeremiah 17:5, 7 (NIV)

Call it 9-1-1, call it prayer, or call it relying upon God's constant presence in the lives of His followers. Call it whatever you like. But don't forget God. Call upon Him first, no matter whether your needs are great or small, whether in time of distress or peace. We must not only seek Him in times of distress, either. We must seek God always. That's what each of us must do. Everything good is from God (James 1:17), and we must depend upon God to deliver us (2 Corinthians 1:9-11). Unless we have forgotten Him, our first call will always be to the Lord.

Copyright © 2001 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.