Hope in the Ashes: Remembering 9/11

by Sally Matheny

Remembering 9-11 (Photo Courtesy of Flickr)

On the morning of September 11, 2001, my six-year-old daughter snuggled next to me on the sofa. My nine-year-old daughter nestled in on my other side. I cherished these moments. Our easing into the mornings with Bible study and prayer were my favorite times. 
However, even though we were enjoying our second year of homeschooling, I still struggled with doubts. Am I teaching them the right things? How long will I be able to do this? Will we survive being together all day, every day?

I pushed the thoughts aside and focused on the moment. By the time, I finished reading to my girls; President George Bush also ended his reading to a class of second graders in Florida.

Shortly after that, my husband calls from his office and tells me to turn on the television. I stand in shock of the images I’m viewing. Both of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are billowing black smoke. Numerous sirens are blaring in the background. Anxious reporters are dropping words of destruction--"hijacked,” “under attack, “and “acts of terrorism.”

I did what every loving wife would do, I told my husband to come home. If America was under attack, I wanted us to be together. My husband remained calm and said he had to stay at the community college where he worked. Not knowing what other acts of terrorism might take place; he was determined to stand ready if needed on the college campus.

We told one another to be safe. As we said goodbye, there was a new depth of sincerity as we each said, “I love you.”

With tears in my eyes, I tell the girls to go play. Teaching English and Math seems irrelevant. I need fresh air.

Outside, I look up into the blue, cloudless sky. Closing my eyes, I take in deep breaths of prayer.

Lord, I don’t know what’s going on here. The birds are singing. The sun is shining. It seems like an ordinary day—but it’s not.
For so many people, this day is darkened beyond comprehension.There’s great sadness and fear. Please help us, Lord. Show us your hope in the midst of the ashes.

Hope in the Ashes: Remembering 9-11
(photo courtesy of Flickr)
I don’t know how long I stood there, still, and waiting on God. But eventually, even though the clouds of concern remained, I sensed a peace. God was working. He would bring good out of evil.

Days and months after 9-11, my heart broke repeatedly as tales unfolded about the personal lives of those who died in the attack and the loved ones they left behind. But along with those, stories emerged of how God worked through people--to rescue, comfort, and heal. Story after story revealed God’s miracles and brought hope to those who would accept it.

Accepting it. That’s the hard part for so many, isn’t it? Accepting the sovereignty of God. Accepting the Truth. Accepting His love and forgiveness.

The truth is God created a beautiful and amazing world. He created all life. When he created humans, he did not want them to be robots. He created each one uniquely and gave them the freedom and power of choice.

Unfortunately, we often think too much of ourselves and choose to sin. Every single person has, at some point or another, chosen to go against God. We all have sinned. Adam, Moses, David, John, and Paul. George Washington, the Pope, and Billy Graham. Me. You.

No matter how hard we try to make it perfect, we live in a world where evil resides. Devastation and death occur because of sin. But God is full of mercy and compassion. He loves us so much and longs to give us an abundant life and a life everlasting. He knew when He gave us the freedom of choice, we would surely not make the right decisions 100% of the time.

Because God loves us so much, He knew it was essential to provide us with one additional, yet exclusive, option to save us—His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Life on this earth is short. Some days we bask in sunshine and peace. Other days the darkness of sin and turmoil shroud us with fear and doubts.
What doubts are you struggling with today?

Am I teaching my children the right things? How long will I be able to stay in this job? Will my marriage survive another day?

Reflecting on 9/11 and its aftermath reminds me God can bring us out of the ashes of despair. What are your reflections?

God stands ready to bestow a "crown of beauty instead of ashes."
Photo Courtesy of Flick

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” 
Isaiah 61:3

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