Friday, September 11, 2015

Eternal Hope In The Midst of Darkness

If the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us. Psalm 124:2-3 

I still get chills watching the film footage of planes slamming into the World Trade Center on 09/11/01, the buildings falling, and people screaming and running. I’m immediately transported back to that day and how life unfolded in the aftermath. When would the next attack happen? Would we ever feel safe again?

As many Americans did, I clung to my faith. No matter what, God was with us. Tragic things happen in this world, yet we foolishly believed they didn’t happen here—at least not on that large of a scale.

On 9/11, and in the days and weeks to follow, political party lines were erased. President Bush reassured us from the top of the Twin Towers rubble with a bullhorn in his hand and again, days later, when he bravely walked to the center of a major league baseball field and threw out the first pitch. Congress stood arm-in-arm on the steps of the Capitol and sang God Bless America. We were one people with one voice joined in determination to protect what America stood for—freedom.

Josh's 7th birthday party
But there was another angle to 9/11 for my family. My son Josh turned seven years old that day. We had serendipitously celebrated with a party the Saturday before. The na├»ve belief in our nation’s security that the party-goers and our family appreciated three days before the attacks was shattered, much like Pearl Harbor had done decades before. Though Josh has enjoyed birthdays since, they’ve never quite been the same.

My son’s generation has grown up in the shadow of the war on terror. Some of his earliest memories are of his country going to war—a war brought to our shores as it had been sixty years earlier. I had a difficult time making sense out of the attack and an even more difficult time explaining it to him.

Born out of this tragedy was renewed patriotism for many Americans, young and old alike. The scenes of firefighters running into towers that eventually collapsed on them had a profound effect on Josh, as it did for many of his generation. The firefighters’ sacrifice instilled in him a sense of duty toward his country and fellow man. Many like Josh were galvanized into action, even though at a young age of 7, he could only be angry that it happened.

18th birthday
When Josh turned 16, he joined our volunteer fire department’s teen explorer program and began taking the rigorous classes needed to be a firefighter. After two years of training and service, he proudly received his “black helmet” on his 18th birthday, signifying his full firefighter status. It was all he talked about for weeks before. After graduating high school, he went on to community college where he recently obtained an A.S. in Fire Science. The job market is tough with seventy percent of our nation’s firefighters being volunteers. If someone had told me in the midst of all that tragedy fourteen years ago that Josh would be a paid firefighter working on his 21st birthday, I couldn’t have wrapped my mind around it. Yet, he is. And I couldn’t be prouder knowing he serves the community today.

Americans changed in the years following the attack. We’re all battle weary from the evil perpetrated on us that clear September morning and the wars and terror since. We learned on 9/11 that the bubble of security we’d foolishly wrapped ourselves in did not exist. Every year seems to bring a new normal of what terror looks like and a renewed sense that we are impotent to protect ourselves from it.

But we also reaffirmed something Americans knew before the attacks. Americans pull together for the good of all. Americans overcome. As we pause to honor the victims of 9/11 today, let us do so with the spirit of hope their lives represented. It’s a thought that’s desperately needed in our current social and political climate when Americans now seem most interested in things that divide.

We must never give up hope.

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18 

Even in his worst trial, Job had hope. We have a duty as Christians to reject despair, rejoice in the hope found in Christ Jesus, and go about the daily business of life—no matter what tragedies befall us.

Life truly is how you choose to frame it.

9/11 symbolizes America’s heartache and perseverance, but it’s also a symbol of one of the greatest days of my life—the day my son was born.

While we mourn with those who mourn, rejecting despair is imperative to the Christian life and witness. Good can arise from the worst circumstances. We only have to look to the 9/11 survivor stories to know this is true. It’s only through God, that during the dark times, we can experience the light of eternal hope (Romans 5:1-5). 

Do you have a special Bible verse you turn to in adversity—maybe even during the 9/11 terrorist attacks or their aftermath? I’d love for you to share it. Leave a comment to inspire other readers and for a chance to win a kindle copy of my devotional, While I’m Waiting: Going from despair to hope while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. 

If you need prayer, please share in the comments or email me confidential requests. I'd love to pray for you. 

God bless you all,
Laura

© Laura Hodges Poole

“One World Trade Center Tower” image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“Despair or Hope” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

4 comments:

  1. Never, ever give up hope. . . Never, ever forget. That is why God repeatedly said to do this in remembrance. .Remembering helps to keep the memory alive. . . it gives us hope. Thanks for sharing. And reminding us. ..

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    1. You're welcome, Tammy. I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless you.

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  2. Such an encouraging post Laura! I know how proud you are of Josh, as you should be. What a great story of a defining moment in a little boys life. He has already done great things. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I still remember what I was doing on that (getting ready for a college class).

    That day changed America. And you're right, we should never give up hope. God is for us and still working in us and through us.

    Josh is a great example of what is good in America. Young people like him give us hope for a brighter America because not only does he serve his fellow American's, he serves God!

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