Hard to believe it has now been eight years since the attacks of 9/11/2001. Around the world, the attacks may not mean as much as they do here because some countries are attacked seemingly all the time and there are not national holidays for them. But this one was different. It was the first strike of American soil since World War II and Pearl Harbor. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t even states when that happened.
Amazingly, you’ll see around the internet today of people reflecting on their 9/11 experience because of its uniqueness. This is an event that will be remembered by this generation forever. In America, it will be remembered like The Challenger disaster of the 1980’s. In that flight into space, teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other astronauts lost their lives. It was the first space mission to ever fail so badly that it exploded and killed those inside. It will be remembered like the John F. Kennedy assassination in the 1960’s. On that fateful November day, our President was shot and killed on the street in Dallas. It was also the first time that television news reported a large world-changing event almost live. It will be remembered with Pearl Harbor by those of that generation.
A friend of mine asked why do we remember calamities like these so vividly. I’m not totally sure. Part of the reason is that they are recorded in history as major events. But I think the other primary reason is that all of those events were a total shock to us that they happened. I also think that these are days in history that shows the worst that can happen in a society.
I believe that events are also shown on television immediately now and there are so many places to see it that the images are buried in our heads. I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching people standing on the World Trade Center in total fear deciding whether to jump or not from way too many stories up that I saw on the internet. People knew it was likely that they would die either way and you kept praying that people knew Jesus.
Why? Because without Him there was no hope for some on that day. If they didn’t know our Saviour, there was that feeling of, “Is this it? Is this what I was created for? Was I born to die on a building that is going down? Can someone rescue me from this end? Anyone?”
I still think about that eight years and it stills brings me to tears thinking about those with no hope. But I also remember my friend Bill watching the video with me and saying to me, “Hey, that guy doesn’t look scared. Wonder if he is saved? Wonder if he knows where he’s going?” I often wondered about him after that. This man I never met, but hope to see in heaven.
That’s when you know where your hope is. In a crisis, you understand exactly where your heart is. I’ve heard stories of people dying and some walk toward it with so much faith because they know where home is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Isn’t that the kind of hope you want? I know I do.
I was living in Kissimmee, Florida at the time and the whole world stopped. Walt Disney World closed. That’s right, the happiest place on earth closed. The fear of anything happening there forced the closure that day. Even though the doors were opened again on September 12th, the world had still not gone back to normal. Planes were still down and people trying to go anywhere were stuck with driving there. Malls were open half a day.
It took America time to get their total spirit back. I remember a week without baseball in the middle of a pennant race. NFL games were postponed. But as that week churned on, something else happened. The good of America came out. People were nicer, helping each other through the pain of the disaster. It definitely brought out a Patriotic spirit. We were American and proud to be so. It was a time when black, white and every other nationality stood united. We were the United States. There was a hope that we would get through it together.
That same week, 1,000 miles from where I was in Florida, something else was happening here in Effingham, Illinois. As the rest of America was gearing up their American pride, Effingham was celebrating something that we should all think about.
On September 16, 2001, the city held the opening ceremony for the new Cross of Effingham. If you drive by on Interstates 57 and 70, you will see this 198-foot cross symbolizing the stand of hope that Christ took for us. Even though I wasn’t here, I’ve talked to many that were and I’ve been told it was a special night to remember the ones that perished and lost their lives, but it was also a night of hope and placing the pain at its proper place, at the cross.
Jesus came over 2,000 years ago to give us life, a life after death. Whether that death is by natural or unnatural causes, God wants us to spend the next life with him in heaven. That is the hope that we should all be longing for. It is that great hope that should carry us on even in the painful times of our lives.
There are people that ask me even today, Frank, how can you tell me there is a God that would let events like 9/11 happen? Where is your hope against a question like that? That’s a tough question. I often bring up scripture that evil falls on the just like the unjust. However, I found a great story that was circulating in the months after 9/11 that I’ll share with you now. There is a website that has this and other 9/11 material as well as pictures commemorating the happenings of that day. If you wish, you can go view all of that at a page entitled “Where Was God on 9/11?” at http://www.swapmeetdave.com/United/Where.htm.
But here is the story of where God was on 9/11/2001.
Have you ever thought, “Where was God on 9/11 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked?” Well, I know where my God was on the morning of September 11, 2001, and he was very busy.
He was discouraging people from taking four flights. Together, they could accommodate more than 1,000 passengers, yet there were only 266 aboard. He was on those four flights giving the terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the people who was called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes mentioned that the passengers were panicked, nor was there any screaming in the background. And on one of the flights, God gave strength to overcome the hijackers.
God was also busy creating obstacles to prevent people that worked in the World Trade Center from getting to work on time. The work day had begun, more than 50,000 people worked in the two towers, yet only 20,000 were at their desks. On that beautiful morning, God created scores of unexpected traffic delays, subway delays, and commuter train delays. A PATH train packed with commuters was stopped at a signal just short of the World Trade Center and was able to return to Jersey City. And far more meetings were scheduled elsewhere than usual.
God held up each of the two mighty towers for a half hour so that the people on the lower floors could get out. And when he finally let go, He caused the towers to fall inward rather than to topple over, which would have killed many more people. The foundations of the six surrounding buildings were demolished by the fall of the towers, but God held them up many hours until all the occupants were safely evacuated.
And when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon buildings went down, my God picked up almost 3,500 of his children and carried them to their home for all eternity. He also sat down and cried that 19 of his children could have so much hate in their hearts, that they did not choose him, but another god that doesn’t exist, and now they are lost forever.
He sent people trained in dealing with earthly disasters to save those that were injured. And he sent in thousands of others to help in any way they were needed. And he brought people together across the world that moved thousands to tears and hundreds of thousands to prayer--and caused millions to turn to the one true living God.
He still isn’t finished. Every day he comforts those who lost loved ones. He is encouraging others to reach out to those that don’t know him or believe in him. He is giving the leaders of our great nation the strength and conviction to do the right thing, to follow his will, not a popular poll.
So if anyone ever asks, “Where was your God on 9/11?” you can say, “He was everywhere! And, in fact, he is everywhere today and every day.” Without a doubt, this was the worst catastrophe most of us have ever seen. I can’t imagine getting through such a difficult time without God at my side. Without God, life would be hopeless.
I agree with every sentiment in that story. It’s eight years later and God is still here and still on the throne. None of this has caught God by surprise. Take a moment out today to take your hopes, dreams, desires, concerns, worries and prayers to the one place that still accepts calls, even without a quarter. Take them to Jesus. Take them to the cross. Kneel down and give them to Him.
I love you guys!