When the events of 9/11 happened, I remember being terrified and thinking the world was ending. I was in the fifth grade when it happened, and was currently in class hearing the radio station describe the events as they unfolded. The next couple of weeks consisted of nation wide prayers, vigils, and children I had known and befriended, finding out they had lost their loved ones in the towers. I remember going home and seeing the buildings fall hundreds of times. And, in those moments, I wished I had a time machine. I was only in elementary school, I was only nine years old, but I wanted to go back in time and warn people. I wanted to stop the terrorists before they got on the plane, I wanted to save everyone from the suffering and torment that this travesty had caused and kept causing.
Like my younger self, we all tend to want to go back in time in order to prevent certain events from happening. Meeting that girl that broke your heart, wasting your time in school instead of focusing on the work, falling into that sin that's consequences are still affecting you and may remain prevalent till you are long gone- we wish we could change those things, and make things "right".
As honorable as these thoughts may seem- they undermine a tremendous truth and may be coming from a wicked part of our hearts. The truth is: God is in control and He knows better than you.
Let's start at the second part of that statement. When I was daydreaming about traveling back in time and making things all better, I made a few assumptions.
The first assumption was that my idea was obviously better than what had happened. The events of 9/11 were tragic, and therefore it would have been better if they had never happened. Though this may sound nice, how do I know that this was not a necessary event? What other events may have been orchestrated if I would've gone and changed the stream of time to benefit what "I" thought was right? Surely, a butterfly effect would have ensued, and the damage could have been more devastating (or more beneficial) in the long run- but my knowledge of how events will unfold is limited because my power and scope over these events is limited.
Behind this assumption, is the idea that God is not good at being God. That He really missed the mark when it came to 9/11, or that maybe He wasn't paying too close attention when you're marriage fell apart, or that He must have been snoozing when your family member died in a car accident. Our definition of a "good" god is one whom is submissive to the will of humanity, and who's sole purpose is the flourishing of man. That's one of the reasons we grow in bitterness toward God, we think his main purpose is to please us. It's not.
God's purpose for creation is to bring all glory and Honor unto Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10) All things, are ultimately created for Christ- to point to His power, glory, and splendor. He did not create the heavens and earth at the beck and call of human beings- He willed it, so it was so.
See, when we say we want to go back in time, we are saying that we want to change something God allowed to happen for a purpose. But, since He has not revealed it to us (and, doesn't have to) we believe that "We" should be able to go back and "correct" Him.
But how far back must we go? The events in 9/11 would never had happened if there weren't any conflict between the Middle east and the West- so should we go and stop those events that caused the strife? What about the holocaust? Or the countless wars of antiquity? Must we not go all the way back to Cain and Abel in order to prevent murder from entering humanity? But, that's a product of sin- we must then travel to Adam and Eve's time in Eden to prevent the fall. But why stop there? Why ever have the snake or the tree in the garden? Why not create a different Eden? Start from scratch?
Do you see where this is going?! At the end of the day, wanting to change the past, is wanting to change what God had sovereignly ordained to happen. We want to create a new world, and we would dethrone God in the process- becoming god in order to have OUR will be done.
But we can't have our will be done- we're human. Mortal, frail, inconsistent, broken, imperfect beings whom can barely live up to their own standards, much less sustain the very fabric of reality! This is why God's answer to Job, as He speaks to him about Job's tremendous loss and his great confusion as to why he had suffered so much, is not "This is why I did this", as if God was on trial, but "This is who I AM". God is God!
He is all-powerful, almighty, all-knowing, immortal, creator and sustainer of all things visible and invisible! He controls all the elements of the earth; has dominion over the hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, blizzards, heat waves, and lightning storms. He reigns over all- and every beast, every human, every spirit, will bow down to Him and declare that He is Lord.
So, if God is all these things, and we are not, then He must know better than us. He must know why your failing that class was necessary, or why someone dies young or old, or why people chose to crash planes into civilians. There is a purpose behind it all, it is not just meaningless chaos, but it is all under the sovereign rule of God- whom whether through good or evil, His ultimate plan will come to pass.
Here is the last thing to consider; God ordained for the most horrific, and tragic event of all time to happen- the death of Christ His Son.
"for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." (Acts 4:27, 28 ESV)
God used the very wicked plans of Man and Satan, in order to flip it on them and fulfill His. See, when Christ was hanging on that cross, Satan and the demons thought they had won, the Pharisees and Saudecees thought they has gotten rid of a blasphemer, and the Romans thought they had killed the "King of the Jews". But by crucifying Christ, they fulfilled the very prophecy Isaiah wrote about saying:
"And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:8-10 ESV)
The event in time which was the done with the most evil intent by creation, was willed for the ultimate good of all mankind by God. The Romans thought they killed a threat to their empire, yet they just helped orchestrate the beginning of the true Kingdom of God. The Jews thought they had done away with a false teacher, but their efforts only showed to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. Satan thought he had finally usurped God, but by putting Jesus on that tree- he had condemned himself, death, and sin to destruction by the hand of the resurrected and glorified Son of God!
God knew better than all of them, God knows better than all of us.
He, who would come down and suffer the life of humanity and die a death considered to be a "cursed" way to die- works ALL things for His glory, and the good of those whom He loves. There should be no doubting the need of past events; if it happened it was for a purpose that God has, and has chosen not to reveal. Yet, we can trust that in the end it will be to bring all glory to Christ who is worthy.
God is in control of our past, present, and future. He molds us through trials and triumphs- to be made into the image of His Son. He does the same with all creation, in order to bring forward His sovereign plan to put all things under Christ's feet. God's ways are not ours, and it is wise and safe to trust Him who gave himself, put himself through the fire, in order to reconcile us back to Him. There is no need to go back in time, when you know your Father is in control of it all from the beginning to the end.