James 4:14 (New International Version)
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
September 11 was a trying time for all Americans. There were no Irish-Americans, no Italian-Americans, no African-Americans, or others…There are just Americans who have been assaulted by the horrors and hatred unleashed by forces of evil.
These were not acts by Arabs, or Muslims, or any true followers of the Koran. They were acts by fanatics filled with so much hatred that their hearts were blackened to evil. In many ways they are just like the KKK or "skinheads" who are not righteous Christians, but forces of hate.
The root of the word "terror," or "terrorism," comes from the Indo-European base "tre" (shake or tremble) and means to "shake with fear." It does well to understand that the aim of terror is to break your spirit, to cause you fear, to fall into despair and darkness. However, we have a God, the Rock of Ages, who is the God of mercy, the God of hope and the God of light. So let us walk in the light, steadfast in faith!
That day in September 2001 I remember sitting at the McDonalds watching the TV as the attacks took place. As we sat there most of us had feelings like a yo-yo – shock, horror, sorrow, sadness, fear, anger, helplessness, compassion, frustration, concern – as I’m sure yours were too. There was an intensity of emotions colliding with the depth of our feelings, overwhelmed by the magnitude of these tragic events. However we cannot act simply on our feelings. We must have RESOLVE! Which the Dictionary defines as: to come to a definite or earnest decision about; to determine…to progress from dissonance to consonance.…to make up one’s mind, dedicate oneself to, decide,…fixed intention, commitment, purpose…steadfast purpose, firmness of intent.
There is no doubt about it, emotions were running high. There was a desire to hit back – to hurt someone, something – but we had to have greater resolve, in our faith and as a citizen.
Across our nation, church services were overflowing during the week. Churches were packed trying to make sense of the tragedy, trying to come to grips with the terror that was brought into their homes. People of all faiths were joining together to lift up their hearts, their spirits and their voices.
Many prodigal sons and daughters turned back to God during that time. In an instant, priorities were changed and values converted.
September 11, 2001 – a day that will be remembered always. For out of the very worst man was capable of, the very best had been brought forth – through the heroic efforts by firefighters, police and rescue personnel; through the thousands of caring and compassionate volunteers who stepped forward in this time of crisis.
Max Lucado wrote, "We are not as self-centered as we were. We are not as self-reliant as we were." Yes, hearts are pierced, heads are bowed, knees are bent, but united we stand! A glimmer of hope continues to shine through the clouds of darkness and terror.
We read from Psalm 27: "The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?…When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.…Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek.…Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.…I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Even on that dark day you could see in New York harbor, Lady Liberty’s torch brightly beaconing hope even amid the darkest hours of terror. If we hold to the Lord as our light and our salvation there is no darkness so dark that can dim even the tiniest flicker of faith, hope and freedom.
Again, we read in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (5:8-9) "…now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth."
Soon after September 11, 2011 Rev. Billy Graham, spoke at the National Cathedral’s prayer service, reminding us that we need "to be moved more by compassion for one another rather than contempt of our enemies." Evil cannot be faced with rampant, unbridled hatred; for then we become that which we most deplore – our hearts too can be turned to a similar blackness of hatred. He then challenged us with these words “In the days ahead, we should not be interested in revenge, but be interested more in mobilizing people to channel their energies to serve a greater good.”
It is important that each of us examines our heart and the way we respond to the things that come our way.
Dear Lord please give us the strength to get through each difficult and devastating day that we face. We pray that we would be the light that the World needs today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.