I was on vacation in New York City on September 11, 2001. On the morning of the attacks I was travelling by subway to Battery Park in lower Manhattan when service was halted about six blocks north of the World Trade Center. I walked out of the station onto a crowded street and looked up to see the twin towers on fire. It was a hellish and surreal sight: thick clouds of smoke billowing across the sky; sheets of paper streaming out of the burning buildings like confetti in a ticker-tape parade; and, intermittently, people jumping to their death to escape the flames.
About half an hour after my arrival I watched in disbelief as the south tower collapsed to the ground. I couldn’t bear to watch the second tower fall, so I began walking back to my hotel in midtown Manhattan (the subway system was shut down). A short while later I heard the terrible rumbling sound of the north tower collapsing, accompanied by the cries of onlookers. I looked back at the column of dust where the skyscraper had stood, then continued on, overwhelmed with shock, sadness and anger.
Many people wonder how an all-powerful and loving God could allow the heinous events of 9-11 to happen. I believe the Bible clearly teaches that God providentially uses the evil acts of men to accomplish His purposes and ultimately bring glory to Himself and grace to His people. No better example of this can be found than the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter declared to the men who had consented to their Messiah’s murder that “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23; see also Acts 4:27, 28). God predetermined that the worst act of evil perpetrated by man would result in the greatest blessing to mankind: salvation from sin’s penalty and the gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23).