Like most people who were older than 6 or 7, I remember exactly where I was ten years ago when Islamic terrorists attacked our country and killed thousands of our citizens, as well as hundreds of citizens of other countries.
I was at work at the GE Industrial Motors Plant in Owensboro, KY. We all went and snagged up small TVs to put in our work spaces as the horrible drama unfolded. We could hardly accomplish anything that day. It was altogether unproductive.
Less than a year previous, I had resigned my commission in the Marine Corps after serving nearly six years. But, that meant I still had two years of inactive reserve duty to perform. I fully expected to be called back to active duty, and was ready to go if called. The call never came.
A week after 9/11, I sat in the choir loft of the church I belonged to and wept bitterly. I put my hands in my face and just cried and sobbed. I cried for families who were suffering loss and extreme hardship. I cried because the nation I loved had been dealt a devastating blow by her enemies. But I cried primarily for my brothers in arms, still so fresh on my heart and mind. I knew they would be the ones to begin paying the ultimate price for this obvious act of war. And they continue, 10 years later, to pay that price. May God go with them on the battlefields.
Upon reflection, however, not much else besides the military war has changed in our land, has it? Oh sure, we have to endure a frisking at airports, but has anything truly deep and spiritual changed about us in America? Following 9/11, there was a mini-surge of religious interest, and God did use the event to save the souls of some. But by and large, Americans have gone right back to their old ways of seeking first the American Dream, fat bank accounts and 401k’s, happy kids and happy meals.
And this is why I continue to weep, 10 years later. Our economy has never recovered from the effects of 9/11. We’re more in debt now than ever before, and keep spending like a rich kid in a candy store. We pretend we’re wealthy, knowing we’re really poor. We’ve had record-breaking tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes on the east coast and in the mid-west. Fires rage in many parts of our land, drought is killing us, and floods consume what droughts do not. Abortion keeps wiping out entire generations of Americans, especially precious black Americans. And so I weep.
Our nation continues to be led, in homes, businesses, politics and sadly, in churches, by women. Thank God for strong women, but friends, America has a drought of strong men. American Christians are still being consumed by 60 hour work weeks, dual-income dreams, and lethargic parenting, while our children languish in the spiritual swamps of humanism and relativism. Christian families spend more time each week playing Wii than they do studying the Bible together. And so I weep.
You see, friends, I believe the Bible. And all these things are viewed in God’s Word as clear signs of Divine judgment upon a nation. These words do not come easily for me, but it seems clear that God is judging America. This land of plenty is being reduced to a wasteland. Our economy is a mere reflection of our spiritual poverty.
The only question for God’s people is how we will respond. Patriotism is growing more difficult for me these days. Don’t get me wrong, I am still patriotic about the original American ideal. But that true “Patriot Dream” seems so far removed from us today that I am very afraid that America is approaching the point where it will be futile for me to even pray or say “God bless America.” I still do want God’s blessings, but I surely cannot expect them!
Hear the words of the weeping prophet Jeremiah, as he languished over the destruction of his people some 2500 years ago:
My eyes are spent with weeping, my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city . . . What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea; who can heal you? Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading . . . all your enemies rail against you; they hiss, they gnash their teeth, they cry, ‘We have swallowed her! Ah, this is the day we longed for; now we have it; now we see it!’ The Lord has done what He purposed; He has carried out His word . . . He has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes . . . let tears stream down like a torrent, day and night! (Lam 2)
Oh, America! Oh, church! From where shall our help come? Only from Jesus, who one day read from Isaiah and claimed He was the literal fulfillment of these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
But America and the Church must first see herself as poor, enslaved, blind and oppressed. And, given our horrific pride, that’s a tall order.
America shall find her hope in Jesus the Christ, or she shall find no hope at all.