We all remember where we were that day, September 11, 2001. But do you remember where you were September 9, 2001? My friend, Cindy does, because she was attending worship services in the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, listening to a sermon by Jim Cymbala. What the pastor could not have known then, but we do know now, is that God was helping him to prepare his church for the coming days, and the tragedy that would come to be known as 9/11.
Pastor Cymbala preached that day on Romans 8:28-29, and he called his sermon “Purpose Prearranged.” He taught that day that even though bad things happen to us in this life, those bad things can produce ten good things.
1. Bad things that happen produce convictions; they cause us to walk more closely with God.
2. Bad things produce honesty.
3. Bad things produce priorities. Our priority should be to love Him and walk in His ways.
4. Bad things produce change. As we move closer to God, we become more like Him.
5. Bad things bring about holiness.
6. Bad things produce security. Psalm 32:7; Psalm 119:17
7. Bad things produce worship.
8. Bad things produce humility.
9. Bad things in our life produce kindness.
10. Bad things produce desire for heaven. They remind us what a glorious thing heaven will be.
As we look back and remember September 11, as bad as it was, can you see in your life where suffering has produced a closer walk with the Lord? Has suffering caused you to be more honest with God?
Does suffering make you re-prioritize your life? Do bad things in your life produce change? Do you become more like God because of hard times? Do you remember all the pictures of people running to houses of worship after the attacks of 9/11? I do. God uses suffering to make us into new and different people.
This weekend, as you talk about 9/11 with your children, remember to include some discussion about how God uses suffering in our lives, and that God is bigger and greater, and more awesome than any power in this world.