As for me, I was sitting on the 23rd floor of a high rise building in Charlotte, NC, going about my daily routine of stress, work loads, and deadlines. Since watching television during the work day was not listed in anyone’s job description, our office did not have the luxury of cable. But when the news broke about a plane crashing into the first twin tower, someone managed to find one clear channel that we could at least see what was going on.
As a large group of us stood there, in our pressed business suits and heels, putting our to-do’s aside which until that very moment had seemed oh-so important – the only sound that could be heard…… was silence.
That silence was broken when a co-worker came running down the hall, shouting that the Pentagon had been hit – and her brother worked at the Pentagon. She began a desperate attempt to hear his voice, but as her phone calls continued to go unanswered, her concerns spilled out into sobs.
The myriad of emotions that were resonating in every heart across the nation, seemed to be sucking the air right out of the room that we stood paralyzed in. Shock. Disbelief. Horror. Uncertainty. Fear.
As we continued to watch the horrific events unfold right before our eyes, I felt another feeling penetrating deep into my soul and rising to the surface of my heart……. panic.
What if ….. we were next? What if….. the very floor that I was standing on in this bank skyscraper, was suddenly hit by another plane? Charlotte, NC, is the 2nd largest financial/banking city in the US. Surely that would make us a viable target for terrorists whose goal is to tear down a nation, one person and one city at a time. So even though we were hours away from New York, sheer panic resonated to the core of my being.
Immediately…… my thoughts raced to my three small children who were at school and daycare, unaware of anything besides playgrounds and text books. Were they safe? Would they be safe until I could get to them? Would I be able to leave the uptown area before something happened to me? What if…… ?
Over 400 co-employees were given permission to leave the building, along with thousands of employees from other companies. Elevators were packed, requiring long waits and lots of anxiety. I obviously could not walk down 23 floors, so as I impatiently waited my turn, each moment brought on a heightened sense of panic.
I finally made it to my car, but the parking garage was grid locked. It took an hour or more to get out, and when I did see daylight, traffic was clogged, and the scent of fear permeated the air. When the road finally opened, I sped to the schools as fast I could, all the while feeling an empty, throbbing, aching feeling in my arms, which would not cease until my three little ones were held tightly within them.
When I eventually arrived home, sitting on the couch in front of the television, surrounded by my husband and the three precious, little people that made my life complete, the tears began to flow.
It was then that I recognized that for the past several hours, I had been functioning on adrenaline alone. Not thinking about anything, except saving the ones I loved. Until my goal was complete, nothing else mattered. But the time had come, that my adrenaline was empty, and my heart, hurt.
Our human hearts cannot understand tragedies such as 9/11. We cannot fathom how fellow humans, also created by God, can be so filled with hatred, that they could carry out such evil. We find ourselves not only confused about life, but grappling with our faith, unable to form the right words to pray, and struggling with feelings of anger and resentment about why God allows such tragedy.
Romans 8:26-28 in The Message Bible says this, ”Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
It is impossible to wrap our minds around why God allows bad things to happen. So our only choice in the midst of hurt, pain, shock, fear, disillusionment and confusion, is to trust that God has a purpose, believe that He is our victor, and honor Him no matter what. Even in the worst of situations.
If we allow the events of 9/11, or any other tragedies or disappointments that we experience in life, to shake our faith, causing us to doubt if Jesus is real, if there is a purpose for all things, or if He really cares about us, then the enemy has won a much bigger battle than he did on 9/11 - the battle for our hearts.
This week every year is one of remembrance. Not just a week to remember the bad, but a week to remember the Good, and that there are sprinklings of good things that have come out of the tragedy. It is a week to focus on the fact that God Was, and Is, and always will Be, even when we see evil taking place right before us and to deliberately commit to trusting Him in all things.
God knows we cannot live on adrenaline alone, and only He can provide the strength we need to live in this broken world. His goal is to get each one of His children safely into His arms, and He has promised to be with us until the end of time. In fact, His last recorded promise in the Bible says “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
This week, as we remember the past, honor those who lost their lives and the ones who lost loved one, let’s also make a commitment to honor our Lord, by promising to always trust Him, and love Him….. no matter what.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”