My daughter graduated elementary school in 2001 with excellent grades. To reward her efforts, I offered to take her anywhere she’d want to go. She asked to go to New York City. My employer required me to submit my vacation request a year in advance. The closest summer week available was September 9th. I wasn’t concerned about taking my daughter out of school so close to the start of the year. Then, I was offered a temporary posting in a position that I’d been craving for years, the only stipulation was that I’d have to push back my vacation. Our trip to New York would have to wait.
Anyone over twenty-five years of age will remember exactly where they were at 08:46 on September 11, 2001. Time stood still as the gravity of the days events sunk in. For me, my changed circumstances were a blessing - we were not in New York City.
Today, we commemorate twenty years since the attack on the USA, whose subsequent war in Afghanistan has now officially ended. The world has changed so much since that fateful day in September. Heightened safety protocols have become routine; yet, the world seems even more divided.
Where is God in all of this?
"God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5)
Darkness is the absence of His light.
He is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us is all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:2,3)
In this world, we will have trouble, and God is there to comfort us. We must turn to Him.
I don’t know why God allows evil to happen, but I know that evil grieves Him.
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth… and He was grieved in His heart. (Gen 6:5-6, ESV)
Injustice and evil are wrong not because of some abstract reason, but but because of something more personal. Rabbi Abraham Joseph Heschel puts it this way:
“An act of injustice is condemned, not because the law is broken,
but because a person has been hurt.
What is the image of a person?
A person is a being whose anguish may reach the heart of God.”
Your anguish reaches the heart of God and His heart is broken by it. It is because of this anguish that God sent His Son, Jesus to make a way of redemption for all of us. Through this act of love, there is hope for the present and there is hope for the future. He is our hope.
Twenty years ago, an act of violence intended to rip people apart, drew people together. In this present time, we seem more polarized than ever. Let’s learn the lesson from the past, and come together. Let’s acknowledge when our actions hurt people, and recognize that those actions grieve our Creator. Let’s pray for our enemies. Let’s come together, listen to each other and bring the peace of Jesus to our world.
Today, we remember the day that changed our world, we remember the people who woke up that morning not knowing that it would be their last. We remember the brave men and women of the first response teams who gave their lives for others. We remember Todd Beamer and the others on Flight 93, who asked for prayer, then courageously daunted the high jackers plans and crashed in Pennsylvania. We remember how our countries came together in support of one another. We are grateful, that in this part of the world, we haven’t experienced another such horrifying attack, and acknowledge that in other places around the world, they cannot say the same. The same God grieves for them.
My daughter and I did get to New York two months later, to support the city that had lost so much. It was emotional, soberly fixed at the foot of the cathedral-like remnants of where the twin towers once stood, watching the long line of dump trucks carrying off the symbol of American economic power and prosperity. I quietly prayed for the people, the country and our world, knowing that God grieved with us.
Let’s allow Him to fill us with His love and press on.