9/11: In Memoriam

by Michael J. Klassen

I had woken up early to work on a writing project. At the time I was self-employed as a freelance writer. Walking to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal, I picked up the remote to help my daughter Allie find SpongeBob SquarePants on TV.

While scrolling from station to station, I spotted a burning building on one of the channels. I paused for minute to watch, but moved on because I determined the scene was much ado about nothing.

Was I ever wrong.

About an hour later, I checked the news sites on my computer and discovered that the burning building was the World Trade Center. But now a second one was engulfed in flames.

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t tear myself away from the television. When the first tower collapsed, I remember losing my breath. This can’t be happening, I kept telling myself. Despite my disdain for the arrogance New York City often effuses, I couldn’t help feeling overwhelming grief for the people effected by the terrorist attack.

At the same time, news broadcasts then reported that the Pentagon had come under attack as well as a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania?

What is this world coming to? I wondered.

Soon, every airport in America was closed, leaving the skies eerily silent.

Nothing has done more to undermine America’s sense of self-assuredness than the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We were insulated from the rest of the world. We assumed we were safe from outside attack. Catastrophes common in other countries didn’t happen here.

But they did.

In those dark days, the words of a verse in Scripture echoed inside me. “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

The answer to that question is, nothing.

The psalmist continues:

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

When the foundations are being destroyed, where is God? He’s still on the throne. He’s still the powerful God that he’s always been. He still sees what is happening. He sees the victim and feels their pain. He hates the violence. The psalmist says God hates those who love violence. That’s a hard pill to swallow in light of the many Scripture passages that extol the unremitting love of God.

This we know: God loves justice and he hates violence. At some point, all the past evils will be righted, atoned for. And fortunately he forgives, because if he didn’t, all of us would be grouped with the wicked.

Actually, the psalmist does offer us something we can do when the foundations are being destroyed: “In the Lord I take refuge” he writes at the beginning of the psalm. The Hebrew word for “refuge” appears 24 times in the Psalms. Hebrew scholars say that the word can also be translated “take cover”–like when bombs are showering down on you.

“In the Lord I take cover.” I like that.

When the foundations are being destroyed, we’re reminded how fragile life is. How petty everyday offenses really are. How trivial our pursuits can be.

When the foundations are being destroyed, we discover that we can take cover and find peace in the God who loves us and made us.

This weekend we remember the 2,819 people who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on United Airlines flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We also remember the families and friends of those people whose lives were affected as a result of the tragedy. May we live with the understanding that life is fragile and in God we can find refuge.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

 

 

 

3 Comments

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3 responses to “9/11: In Memoriam

  1. Georgie-ann

    Amen,…life is fragile,…handle with care,…and for best results, with prayer, love and trust also,…walk by faith and not by sight,…”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5),…

    The Word of God is a treasure that we store in our hearts, that will continue to remind us and speak Truth to us, even when we are being assaulted, from within and without, by the “merciless enemy.”

    Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

    Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

    Romans 14:23 ” … whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

    Mark 9:24 “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.'”

    Life is not an easy road to navigate, most especially on its own terms,…it is perhaps “more normal” to be “crying out to the Lord with tears” for help and rescue, than modern entertainments and philosophies would “program” us to believe. None of the greatest scientific “advancements and discoveries” have ever conquered death, famine, war, hatred or unbelief, and some of them have made all these negatives even more terrifying! Science’s attempts at creating “a rose garden” for us, in the here and now, — (as incredible as some things are!) — have made absolutely “no change” in the “final (or ultimate) things.”

    We have to admit that against the awesome backdrop and panorama of time, space, the universe, “accidents” large and small, deliberate manipulations and cruel applications of power and domination, we easily experience our individual selves as weak, as “mice” toyed with by those with abusive, compelling and tormenting fantasies.

    And yet, we survive, and find the power and strengthening of Hope being birthed and renewed within us,…we have visions of “better things,”…we awake “in the morning” with renewed vitality, and possibly even with a hint of ephemeral and transcendent Joy,…a baby cries, a bird sings,…we keep on trying,…(a small “hat tip” here, to my hopeful ever-positive mother, and various empathetic relatives and poets!),…

    From whence does our help come?

    Psalm 121 [A Song of Ascents.]

    1 “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
    From whence comes my help?
    2 “My help comes from the LORD,
    Who made heaven and earth.

    3 “He will not allow your foot to be moved;
    He who keeps you will not slumber.
    4 “Behold, He who keeps Israel
    Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

    5 “The LORD is your keeper;
    The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
    6 “The sun shall not strike you by day,
    Nor the moon by night.

    7 “The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
    He shall preserve your soul.
    8 “The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
    From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

    With eternal gratitude to the Lord for Who He is, and all He does and has done for us,…and In Memoriam of all His timeless Heroes of the Faith, big and small, known and unknown — those who “spoke faith words” of help and inspiration,…those who “acted from the knowledge and conviction in their bones” to “do the right thing” when the need was apparent,…those who quietly prayed in their hearts everyday, with hope against hope, that everything would “turn out alright” for everybody, — I would like to add my own small thanks and appreciation, sorrow for sufferings, and gratitude for faithfulness, no matter how shaky,…

    Truly it is God Who sustains us, the “invisible” glue that holds us together when so many forces would try to pull us apart,…it is God Who gives us our Life,…it is God Who directs our path,…and God Who has greater plans for us than anything we have yet to see or imagine,…

    It is God, our Father, Who has imparted all this to us in and by His Word,…Who loves, protects, forgives and reconciles,…and Who truly does understand everything,…He promises that one day we will understand with Him also,…

    1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

    1 Corinthians 2:9 (Isaiah 64:4):
    9 “But as it is written:
    ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”

    Praises be to God.

  2. Thank you, Georgie-ann, for your words.

  3. Georgie-ann

    Thanks also to you and Eugene for your honorable remembrances,…God Bless,…g

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