On the 15th anniversary of the falling of the towers, I sat next to my husband in church as we listened to our pastor ask these questions:
Why did God allow this to happen?
Is there a God?
Where was God?
If God is so powerful, why didn't He stop it?
Actually we can find ourselves asking these exact questions during every trial in our life. They're not specific to 9/11. At the end of the sermon, our pastor concluded that knowing the answers usually doesn't help. It's a matter of courage to trust God. His wisdom is far beyond anything we could ever comprehend. It's up to us to move forward in an attitude of hope. But how do we find hope and trust in God after such tragedy strikes? The answer to that question filled my spirit with such power that it moved me to tears.
On September 11, 2001 I was a junior in high school. From the edge of my bed, I watched the morning news which showed the first tower burning, then the second plane hit, followed by the collapse of each building. My heart ached for the people affected, although I was not one of them. I didn't know anyone who worked in the tower. I didn't know anyone who lived in New York City. I didn't know any of the first responders. I didn't know anyone who died that day.
I also didn't know that one of my best friends would soon attend The United States Military Academy to serve his country, partly because of the tragedy we witnessed from 3,000 miles away. I didn't know that I would marry that young man eight years later. I didn't know that because of that morning on 9/11 my husband and I would endure two deployments to Afghanistan. I didn't know that he would be shot down two months into his first deployment. I didn't know that he would be stationed at the most rocketed base in Afghanistan the second time. I didn't know that one of his soldiers would lose his life, one month before his return while his wife carried their first child in her womb. I didn't know that my marriage would be tested by the natural consequences of battle. There was a lot I didn't know on the morning of September 11, 2001. How naive I was to think I wasn't affected.
Despite the pain, the loss, and the destruction that occurred on 9/11, which still lingers 15 years later, we must attempt to see the blessings in the mess. God's wisdom is infinitely beyond any concept our mind's could even begin to fathom. Maybe we'll find out the reasons in Heaven, but here, it's a matter of trusting His heart.
One thing I can tell you, the events on September 11th were committed by evil men. But what Satan intends to destroy us, God can use for His glory. Take these true examples. A drunk driver who kills an innocent man on the road, but goes on to bring hundreds of men to Christ while in prison. A mother who miscarries her baby, but goes on the adopt an orphaned child. A parent whose child dies in an unforeseen accident, but goes on to share her story, which will save an untold number of parents from enduring the same calamity. Loss is going to affect each and every one of us, several times. We have the choice to deal with it an a way that honors the Lord, or allow evil to overcome us.
I didn't know it at 16, but my life would in fact be deeply affected by the events that occurred on 9/11. However, I get to choose the lens through which I view that day's impact. I've experienced hurt, separation, loneliness, loss, and despair. Yet, when our pastor told us that it takes courage to trust God's heart in the matter, I instantly saw the faces and opportunities that the Lord has blessed my life with as a result of 9/11. This is not to diminish all the pain our world has been dealt as a result of that malicious doing, but to offer a new perspective.
As a result of 9/11, my husband joined The Unites States Military Academy to serve his country.
As a result of 9/11, I moved to Ft. Rucker where local influences played a significant role in my salvation.
As a result of 9/11, we were stationed at Ft. Hood where we were blessed with the most magnificent neighbors who became our family.
As a result of 9/11, I witnessed entire church congregations praying for the safety of my husband and his soldiers.
As a result of 9/11, a time of loneliness after war drew me intimately closer to Christ.
As a result of 9/11, I developed heartfelt friendships with my co-workers in Texas.
As a result of 9/11, I bonded with a beautiful woman who would later become our daughter's godmother.
As a result of 9/11, a prayer partner in El Paso taught me how to forgive and love my father before he passed away.
As a result of 9/11, I was called to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center outside our church near Ft. Bliss.
As a result of 9/11, I worked alongside the Lord empowering pregnant women to choose life for their children and sharing the love of Christ.
As a result of 9/11, I cherish many lifelong friendships that are scattered across the nation due to our transient military life
It would be easier for me to focus on all the negative aspects that September 11th has brought to my life, but there's no joy or peace in that. Identifying the blessings and praising God for His work in the mess shows me that there is an exorbitant amount of good that God has created, in a place where Satan meant to destroy. In memory of those who have fallen as a result of 9/11, let's take a moment today to contemplate the blessings that have risen from the ashes.
How were you affected by 9/11? And what are the blessings in your life because of it?