Reflections On The Events Of September 11, 2001

Calvin BrownCalvin Brown is a former Executive Director of The Renewal Fellowship.

In His hand every moment has its meaning; its greatness, its glory, its peace. — Dag Hammarskjold

As I was reading Calvin's Institutes, shortly after the terrible events of September 11, I came across this passage that I felt was extremely timely to reflect on especially as the war against terrorism continues with threats of new violence, and germ warfare. Christians need not be afraid because our life is held in God's hand. I heartily commend the following excerpts to you and although it requires some serious meditation, the peace which rewards the diligent is well worth the effort.

Blessings on you. — Calvin Brown.

    Without certainty about God's providence life would be unbearable. Innumerable are the evils that beset human life; innumerable too, the deaths that threaten it. We do not need to go beyond ourselves: since our body is the receptacle of a thousand diseases — in fact holds within itself and fosters the causes of diseases — a man cannot go about unburdened by many forms of his own destruction, and without drawing out a life enveloped, as it were, with death.

    Now, wherever you turn, all things around you not only are hardly to be trusted but almost openly menace, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark upon a ship, you are one step away from death. Mount a horse, if one foot slips, your life is imperilled. Go through the city streets, you are subject to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. Your house, continually in danger of fire threatens in the daytime to impoverish you, at night even to collapse upon you. Amid these tribulations must not man be most miserable, since, but half alive in life, he weakly draws his anxious and languid breath, as if he had a sword perpetually hanging over his neck?

    Certainty about God's providence shouts joyous trust toward God in our hearts. Yet, when that light of divine providence has once shone upon a godly man, he is then relieved and set free not only from the extreme anxiety and fear that were pressing him before, but from every care. For as he justly dreads fortune, so he fearlessly dares commit himself to God. His solace, I say, is to know that his Heavenly Father so holds all things in his power, so rules by his authority and will, so governs by his wisdom, that nothing can befall except he determine it. Moreover, it comforts him to know that he has been received into God's safe keeping and entrusted to the care of his angels, and that neither water, nor fire, nor iron can harm him, except in so far as it pleases God as governor to give them occasion. "For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Under his wings will he protect you, and in his pinions you will have assurance; his truth shall be your shield." (Psalm 91)

    Let us recall that the devil and the whole cohort of the wicked are completely constrained by God's hand as by a bridle, so that they are unable either to hatch any plot against us, or having hatched it, to make preparations or, if they have fully planned it, to stir a finger toward carrying it out, except so far as he has permitted, indeed commanded. "Let them, also recall that the devil and his crew are not only fettered, but also curbed and compelled to do service. Such thoughts will provide them abundant comfort. For it belongs to the Lord to arouse their fury and turn and direct it whither he pleases; so, also, is it his to set a measure and a limit, lest they licentiously exult in their own lust."

    In short, if you pay attention, you will easily perceive that ignorance of providence is the ultimate of all miseries; the highest blessedness lies in knowledge of it.

    – Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, sections 10 & 11.