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A Sermon to Remember

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 3:03 am

A Sermon to Remember

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 24, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Billy Graham's sermon in Oklahoma City in 1995, just days after the worst domestic terrorist attack in history, was one of his finest.

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Listen to Echoes of History, Assassin's vs Templars on iHeart or wherever you get your podcasts. And we continue with our American stories. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 was the deadliest act of homegrown terrorism in American history. In mere seconds, a rider rental truck packed with nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives tore off the building's entire north wall, damaging 300 nearby buildings and incinerating hundreds of vehicles. When rescue efforts were completed days later, the death count was 168, among them 19 children, most of whom were in the building's daycare center.

The youngest victim was four months old. Hundreds more of all ages were hospitalized or injured. On April 23, a memorial service was held at the Oklahoma State Fair Arena in honor of those who lost their lives. Speakers included the mayor of Oklahoma City, the governor of Oklahoma, and President Bill Clinton, who had these words to say to the people gathered there and to a national TV audience as well. If anybody thinks that Americans are mostly mean and selfish, they ought to come to Oklahoma.

If anybody thinks Americans have lost the capacity for love and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma. After President Clinton, the Reverend Billy Graham came to the podium. The most trusted pastor in America came to address the question human beings have been asking since the beginning of time about unexplainable acts of evil. Here was Billy Graham's response.

I have been asked the question several times, many times. Why does God allow it? Why does a God of love and mercy that we read about and hear about allow such a terrible thing to happen?

Over 3,000 years ago, there was a man named Job struggled with the same question. He asked why, because he was a good man, and yet disaster struck him suddenly and swiftly. He lost seven sons, three daughters. He lost all his possessions. He even lost his health.

Even his wife and his friends turned against him. His wife said, curse God and die. And in the midst of his suffering, he asked this question, why? Job didn't know.

Job didn't know. Why did I not perish at birth, he cried. Perhaps this is the way you feel, and I want to assure you that God understands those feelings. The Bible says in Isaiah 43, 2, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

The flames will not set you ablaze. And yet, Job found there were lessons to be learned from his suffering, even if he didn't fully understand it. And that is true for all of us as well.

What are some of the lessons that we can learn from what has happened? First, there's a mystery to it. I've been asked why God allows it. I don't know.

I can't give a direct answer. I have to confess that I never fully understand, even for my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is a God of love and mercy and compassion, even in the midst of suffering.

I can remember many years ago, lying on a dirt floor in a field hospital in Korea, and looking up into the face of a soldier, suspended in a frame, who was horribly wounded, and the doctor said he'll never walk again. And I ask myself, why? I can recall standing at the bedside of children who were dying, and I've asked myself, Lord, why?

I recall walking through the devastation left by hurricanes in Florida and South Carolina and typhoons in India and earthquakes in Guatemala and California, and I've asked myself, why? The Bible says God is not the author of evil, and it speaks of evil in 1 Thessalonians as a mystery. There's something about evil we will never fully understand this side of eternity, but the Bible says two other things that we sometimes attempted to forget. It tells us that there is a devil, that Satan is very real, and he has great power. It also tells us that evil is real and that the human heart is capable of almost limitless evil when it is cut off from God. The prophet Jeremiah said, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

Who can know it? That's your heart and my heart without God. And that's one reason we each need God in our lives, for only He can change our hearts and give us the desire and the power to do what is right and keep us from wrong. Times like this will do one of two things. It will either make us hard and bitter and angry at God, or they will make us tender and open and help us to reach out in trust and faith.

And I think that's what the people of Oklahoma are doing that I have met since I've been here these past two days. I pray that you will not let bitterness and poison creep into your soul, but that you will turn in faith and trust in God, even if we cannot understand. It is better to face something like this with God than without Him.

But the lesson of this event has not only been about mystery, but we've already heard it's a lesson of a community coming together. Some of you today are going through heartache and grief, so intense that you wonder if it will ever go away. I've had the privilege of meeting some of you and talking to you, but I want to tell you, that you are the one who is going through heartache and grief, so intense that you wonder if it will be some of you and talking to you. But I want to tell you that our God cares for you and for your family and for your city. The Bible says that the God of all comfort who comforts us in our troubles, Jesus said, blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. I pray that every one of you experience God's comfort during these days as you turn to Him, for God loves you and He shares in your suffering. Difficult as it may be for us to see right now, yes there is hope. As a Christian, I have hope not just for this life, but for the life to come. Someday there will be a glorious reunion with those who have died and gone to heaven before us, and that includes all those innocent children that are lost.

They're not lost from God. Just days after that Memorial Day service, the wheels of justice began to turn. Two suspects were arrested, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. And not long after that, in 1997, both were convicted.

Terry Nichols was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. In December 2000, Timothy McVeigh asked a federal judge to stop all appeals of his conviction and asked for a date to be set for his execution. The request was granted and on June 11, 2001, McVeigh, at age 33, died by lethal injection with the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was the first federal prisoner to be put to death since 1963. The Murrah Building was demolished for safety reasons in 1995, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum later opened in its place.

On this day in history, in 1995, the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing were honored with the memorial service. This is our American Stories. I'm Malcolm Gladwell. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 04:38:19 / 2023-04-24 04:42:52 / 5

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