It’s funny how we measure time around certain events. There are some events that define our lives, causing us to forever after think of our lives in the context of “before” and “after” such events. There are moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow, but it’s rarely the ho-hum moments that stick in our memories.
I suppose that September 11 will be, for as long as I live, one of those defining moments in time. I was getting ready for work that morning, with the “Today” show on in the background. I think I turned it on just after the first plane had crashed into the first World Trade Center tower, and it was assumed that it was a mere accident. Then several minutes later, I saw them report the crash into the second tower, and the dawning realization that there was more, much more, to the story.
At work we huddled around the old black and white TV with the grainy reception in the office, scoured the internet for updates, and listened to the radio for breaking news. My thoughts were with my aunt and her family who lived (and still live) in Manhattan. Thankfully we soon learned that they were all well, although obviously greatly distressed.
I had lunch with three friends that day at a sports bar, with all the televisions tuned into the news instead of ESPN. Even with the non-stop news reports, I don’t think that we realized the magnitude of what was happening to our nation that day. I don’t think anyone did.
Somehow, over the following days and weeks, the word “terrorism” became a common use in our terminology. Words like “jihad” and “Al Qaeda”–terms I had never heard before–entered our language. Slowly I began to see that we were living in a “post-9/11” world. And things would never be the same again.
As I reflect on September 11, I think about the things I’ve learned from it. I’ve learned that true heroism still exists. I’ve learned that there are people who truly hate our country, who hate us so much that they are willing to sacrifice their very lives if it means taking ours. I’ve learned that tragedy can unite the most unlikely groups. I’ve learned that our government doesn’t always know or do what’s best. I’ve learned that God can be and is glorified even in the midst of tragedy. I’ve learned that September 11 will always be a day tinged with sadness whenever I see that date on the calendar. I’ve learned that time is fleeting and that life is precious and that I never want to forget that.
Most of all, I’ve learned that, despite the threats of terrorism, despite wars and bombings and videos calling for American blood, God is sovereign. He is in control. He cannot be shaken.
Who have I to fear? My life and my times are in God’s hands.
Certainly, today will be filled with reflections on September 11, as well as debates about how protected our country is today versus six years ago, whether or not we are doing the right thing in the war on terror, and whether or not President Bush and the CIA and Congress and everyone else with a say in the matter are acting wisely. While I don’t think we need to cut ourselves off from world news or pretend that danger doesn’t exist, I do think that, when we are tempted to fear the future, we need to remind ourselves of God’s sovereignty, of His wisdom and of His timing. Nothing and no one can stand against Him. Rejoice in that knowledge today.