Memories of September 11, 2001 continue to haunt us, with searing images of planes smashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. We recall the horror as the towers crumpled into ashes, fire and rubble. We knew in that instant thousands of lives had been lost. Anguished images of people running, covered in ash, filled our screens. There were phone calls, emails and last messages of love.
Children woke up with nightmares. Adults who wouldn’t admit to their collective fear, questioned, “What’s next?” Would we be attacked again and who would be the next victims?” There was the too close to “home-ness” of it, knowing someone who was there. Across from the pentagon a friend from college stood, the little girl you took to church camp on a plane, a familiar name listed among the dead.
We became vulnerable in a way we had not been. One WWII veteran, who had been in the midst of the worst battles of that war, told me, “That was bad, but this is worse. It is so much worse because it’s here.”
September 11th saw things of fiction become reality. We were reminded that life is precious, a gift from God.
The prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of despair over the destruction of Jerusalem, clung to God. He cried out in his pain and anguish, not only over the loss of people he loved, but the hardship of those who survived. Yet, in a moment of trust, he would say, “I will wait patiently because I take this to heart; the Lord’s love is surely not exhausted, nor has God’s compassion failed, they are new every morning. Great is God’s Constancy.” Lamentation 3:21-23 REB
In a moment of heartache, Jeremiah turned to God. God who he knew to be one of compassion and love. He turned to God in whom he could yet hope. God has always been the one who turns evil upside down. When the worst of life happens to us, God cradles us in love with hope for a future . . . one that will come as blessing.
“The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in God.” Lamentations 3:19-24 NRSV