Seventeen years ago today was one of the worst days in American history. An unthinkable attack was made on American soil as passenger jetliners were turned into weapons of mass destruction in an act of terrorism. Innocent people died, and heroes rose and fell. It was a day that any American old enough to remember will never forget.
At that time in 2001, I was a seeker of God, meaning that I was still trying to figure out who He was and what He was going to mean to me. One of my biggest roadblocks was trying to reconcile the loving God that I was learning about in my new church with a God who allowed awful things to happen to me in my lifetime.
On 9/11/2001, I was on my way to a hospital in SE Kentucky to hold an open enrollment meeting for its employees when suddenly the news broke that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York. It wasn’t clear how this had happened; nobody knew if it had been accidental or intentional. I walked into the lobby of the hospital in time to see the second plane hit the second tower, and the intent then was clear for all to see.
I went through the open enrollment that day in stunned silence. I functioned on automatic pilot as I did what needed to be done. The people with whom I met were also in stunned silence.
In between meetings, I stepped into the lobby to watch the news coverage. As the towers collapsed, the most amazing thing happened – I felt God’s heart actually breaking. The tears that streamed down my face were mine, but they were also His. In that moment, I understood that God is not distant and uncaring as terrible things happen on this earth. Those things grieve His heart deeply as He watches His children suffer. I think it grieves Him even more when His dearly loved children inflict such pain and torment upon each other.
That experience of feeling God’s heart break was key for me in my seeking journey. It led directly to my giving my life to Christ, fully and without reservation, on 10/14/2001. Praise God!
Today, I remember all of those who were lost in those terrible attacks and I pray for their loved ones. It is a somber day of remembrance for me. However, I also rejoice that our God is big enough to bring beauty from the ashes of tragic events such as this one. I look to Him as the source of joy and hope, and I look to Him for restoration and redemption. He provides those things in my life and I pray that He provides them in the lives of the survivors and the ones who were left behind in the attacks.
What are your thoughts and memories of 9/11? Please feel free to share them in the comments.