That's how long it's been since the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil. I bet you remember where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001. I sure do. The radio alarm clock that woke us up that day wasn't pouring out music, but rather talk of an airplane hitting the World Trade Center in New York City. I didn't realize they were talking about a jet and not a Cessna; a terrorist attack and not an accident. You might wonder why we were sleeping so late, but in our defense, we lived on the west coast at the time. As the day wore on, the magnitude of what was taking place became clear. This was a coordinated attack, not an accident. The toll? On board American Airlines flight 11 that hit the north tower of the World Trade Center: 92 souls, all killed instantly. On board United Airlines flight 175 that hit the south tower: 65 souls, all killed instantly. On board American Airlines flight 77 that hit the Pentagon: 64 souls, all killed instantly. On board United Airlines flight 93 that was courageously brought down in Shanksville, PA, by a band of brave passengers: 44 souls, all killed instantly. At the World Trade Center, 2606 killed. At the Pentagon, another 125 killed. All told, 2996 people died that day in the terrorist attacks. Sobering, isn't it? It should be. Not sure that 10 years later is any more significant than 9 years last year or 11 next, but as a nation pauses to remember, what should we think? Here are a few thoughts on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The words, 'killed instantly' jump out. With the exception of the terrorists, not what those who died were planning on that day. Not typically what any of us are ever planning on when we get out of bed and head off to whatever it is we do. But it iis appointed to man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Are you ready?
Evil men will do evil things. The magnitude of 9/11 was shocking; the ability to carry out such an attack, disturbing; the brazenness of the attack, chilling; but the fact of such a thing should not be surprising. Those who reject the God of the Bible as the one true and living God and embrace false gods, left to themselves, will care nothing for his creation, people made in his image, or his special people. Some will act in accordance with the depth of their depravity. The more amazing thing is the restraining grace of God at work in the world.
Whether seeing the disturbing image of iconic buildings in our nation collapsing or uprisings in the Middle East, I love the comfort of Psalm 2. "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed...He who sits in the heavens laughs." God is not troubled by the raging of terrorists or tyrants; he laughs at it. If our refuge is that Lord and his Anointed, we need not fear.
Give thanks for freedom and those who defend it. I went to bed last night knowing that if my house caught on fire, within minutes there would be men I have never met putting that fire out. I drove to church today without a thought of fear that I might be perrsecuted or arrested for worshiping publicly. We don't even think about those things very often because we assume them. It's not like that everywhere in the world. Since we are to render honor to whom it is due (Romans 13:7), let's remember to honor and thank those who run into burning buildings and not away from them; those who go towards the battle instead of fleeing from it so that the battle doesn't come to us. Thank you. At the same time, remember that those people are instruments in the hands of God. Our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
The only way to live is trusting in Christ. You know how Psalm 2 ends? "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Come what may if your refuge is Christ, you will
be safe in the storm and he will bring you home to heaven whether you're killed instantly in a terrorist attack or die of old age.
So may we remember. Remember what happened that day; remember the pain and pride we felt; remember the hurt that family and friends still feel; remember our great privilege; but most importantly remember our Creator and his Son, Jesus.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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