9/11 Witness Strives to Make Sense of Evil
- Cyndy Salzmann
- 2006 11 Sep
Peg Rankin has had an opportunity few people desire. A bird’s eye view of evil.
On September 11, 2001, Rankin stood on the balcony of her high rise apartment on the New Jersey shore and watched with horror as smoke billowed from the World Trade Center. She stood in stunned silence as the Twin Towers collapsed in a mushroom cloud of dust reminiscent of a nuclear explosion.
How could this be happening? she thought. Especially in the United States of America.
Weeks later, Rankin listened while her neighbor explained how he had to quit his job because he couldn’t live with the nightmarish things uncovered while sifting through the rubble during the recovery operation at the World Trade Center. A few months later, she wept while standing on edge of the crater carved into a farmer’s field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania where two members of her small church were killed in the fiery crash of United Flight 93 – a flight they were not scheduled to be aboard.
“Evil is hard to define,” says Rankin, “but you know it when you see it. The world witnessed a great evil on September 11th.”
As a Christian author and popular international speaker, Rankin had been telling her readers and audiences that God is sovereign and uses all things for His purposes. In fact, she even had a magnet on her refrigerator that read, “Either God is in control – or He isn’t.” But now, staring out her window at the emptiness of the New York skyline without the Twin Towers, Rankin had a burning desire to make sense out of events which seemed so senseless.
“My Bible is my most precious possession,” she says. “It’s the only book where you will find complex issues dealt with in-depth and in a way you can trust.”
As an experienced Bible teacher and the author of five Christian books, including the best-selling Yet Will I Trust Him (Regal Books, 1980), Rankin says she began her personal study of evil at the beginning. “Between Genesis and Revelation there are almost 600 references to evil. I found the word associated with people, deeds, desires, and spirits – just to name a few things. I feel God’s choice of this particular word lends gravity to what might otherwise be described as simply ‘tragic.’”
Delving into a study of evil wasn’t the most pleasant subject but soon Rankin says she began to see an exciting pattern emerge. “We live in a fallen world where there is much suffering. And although God does not condone evil or wish it on His people, He often uses it for good.”
As Rankin dug deeper into her study, she felt the weight of 9/11 being lifted from her spirit and replaced by a deep confidence that God was in control and watching over His people. The result of her experiences after 9/11 and subsequent Bible study is chronicled in her latest book, Making Sense of Evil: 9/11 Eyewitness Finds Answers (Pleasant Word, 2006).
In her book, Rankin cites the cases of Noah, Joseph, King David and Paul as just a few examples where God has demonstrated that He can turn what others intended for evil to good. “The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was one of the most evil acts in the history of the world,” says Rankin, “ but God used the unjust killing of an innocent man to save His people.”
“It is thrilling to realize that at this very moment, the sovereign Lord, from His throne on high, is fitting everything that happens on our planet into a plan that was conceived even before the world was created. One day, we Christians will be privileged to view the blueprint of that plan!”
Cyndy Salzmann is a freelance writer and multi-published Christian author of both fiction and nonfiction. She and her family make their home in Omaha, Nebraska.