Ten years have elapsed since the nightmare attacks of September 11, 2001. On that horrible day, hate ended 3,000 innocent lives and damaged countless others. Moreover, it shattered the illusion of security and peace on our shores.
The terrors of that day still reverberate in our hearts as the wounds stubbornly refuse to heal. They took something we can never recover and that frightens us, as a nation. When we lose the unrecoverable, we feel lost at sea with no hope of rescue.
The Apostle John illustrates this important point and leaves us with hope.
After Jesus is crucified, he is placed in a tomb, sealed shut by wary Roman officers (Matthew 27:62-66).
Mary Magdalene goes at sunrise to be at the tomb to be with her beloved Savior (John 20:1; Mark 16:2). Seeing the stone was rolled away, she ran to get Peter and John (John 20:2). They return and discover that Jesus is not in the tomb (John 20:3-10).
Mary Magdalene remains and sees a man she mistakes for a gardener (John 20:15). She pleads with him to tell her where they took the Lord’s body (John 20:15).
Jesus spoke to her, telling her who he was and she was ecstatic (John 20:16-17). He sent her back to the disciples to announce his resurrection (John 20:18).
Earlier, Mary Magdalene wept because “they have taken away my Lord” (John 20:13). Peter probably had the same idea when he argued with Jesus about going to the Cross (Matthew 16:21-23) and why he cut off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10). He feared his Lord was being taken away from him.
Our lives are filled with people who will try to take our Lord away from us. The terrorists hoped to accomplish that as a part of their mission. Undoubtedly, it worked for some people.
Troubles, heartaches, financial hardships, illness and death will all conspire to separate us from our Lord.
The victory is that no one can rip Jesus out of our hearts unless we allow them to do so.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35, NKJV).
No one can take our Lord away from us unless we allow it to be done (Hebrews 6:4-6). Nothing we face in this life is capable of separating us from Jesus (Hebrews 13:5).
If another major terrorist attack hits our country, the Lord will still be here. We have nothing to fear spiritually. “There is therefore now no combination to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
If we remain in Christ, no spiritual harm can come to us. We may lose our physical lives but heaven will still be our destiny (John 10:10). We must have faith and courage, bolstered by the knowledge of the Word to keep our spirits high.
Christ will never leave us so we can be fearless in his arms.
The images are still shocking. When the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, we thought it was a terrible accident. When the second hit, we knew life would never be the same.
We remember the palpable fear as another plane crashed into the Pentagon and another into the fields of Pennsylvania. The entire world seemed to close in around us as shock set in.
All that we knew in our country was suddenly running through our hands. Three thousand people lost their lives on the day that the War on Terror became vividly real.
The unforgettable images will always be with us. The people running through Manhattan covered in smoke; people leaping from burning buildings; rescue workers running into certain death; strangers becoming blood brothers. For the only time in its existence, New Yorkers came together as one.
The resolve that the nation felt after the attacks was invigorating. The entire Congress standing as one against our enemies, something almost unprecedented, steeled our convictions. Recruiting offices were flooded as young men and women prepared to defend their nation.
Years have passed and perspective offers spiritual lessons that we can gain from the terrible event. Tragedy is nothing new to the course of men.
Jesus addressed these kinds of disasters in Luke 13:1-5. His message is sobering because he knows more about the nature of man and sin than we can ever know. Jesus says that disasters will continue to come. All we can do is to ensure that our souls are ready to face God.
The lessons from the tragedy live with us today.
First, Satan is continually active in this world (1 Peter 5:8). His fingerprints are on every evil act and plot. Yet, they become invisible when authorities place blame and his laughter rings through the land. He has escaped responsibility again as we blind ourselves to his evil.
Second, not every religious person is of God (Matthew 7:21-23). Each of the hijackers were very religious people, set to die for their god. Those who foolishly attribute all “believers” as being Christians or even godly, bring blessings to Satan’s cause (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Third, God is seasonal (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 22:37-38). Religious imagery and interest blanketed the homes of America after the attacks. However, days passed and God was soon ushered onto the back porch and forgotten.
Fourth, everything is marketable. Patriotism became a multi-billion dollar business and it touched everything imaginable.
God’s Church has not been immune to such abuse. He calls us to be genuine, respectful and holy (1 Corinthians 10:31; Acts 8:14-25). When we use him for profit, we will find his wrath (Hebrews 10:31).
Fifth, heroism is unselfishness. The bravery of men and women on September 11 was breathtaking. Whether it was a firefighter rushing into a burning building, or passengers of Flight 93 sending their plane into a fiery crash, rather than into government buildings, we remember the power of unselfishness. Relief organizations received so much money they had problems putting it into action.
God asks us to harness this power every day as we open our hearts and hands to the hurting and lost around us (Matthew 25:31-46).
More terrorist attacks may come in the future. We must be prepared by having our souls ready for judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). In the meantime, we must put these lessons back into action and be just as involved helping others as we were then.
Finally, we ask, will we ever feel the urgency to save the lost as we felt to help the victims on September 11?