There are a few days in our lives that we remember very well. Wedding days, births of children, and days that dreams come true! Another day that we will always remember is when a tragic event occurs in our lives. And when this event affects an entire nation, it links that nation together with a significant connection. This is true if you were old enough to remember September 11, 2001. My college-age son does not remember that day, although he does have recall because of the myriad of videos and photos that are prolific. But those of us who are older can remember many sharp details of that day.
Being in Alaska, our day was just getting started. I remember the phone call stating that we needed to turn on the TV immediately. We watched in disbelief with our mouths hanging open as on live TV the second plane crashed into the second tower! It was an unfathomable moment. I remember bringing my four oldest children to school because we were not sure what else to do. As I passed my 5th-grade son’s classroom I remember his teacher asked if I would come in and pray with the class regarding what had just happened to our nation. I remember being stunned as I watched the horror of people jumping from the buildings and firemen racing into burning buildings. I remember airplane travel of all kinds was suspended in our nation and much of the world. I remember the realization that our lives in the United States would never be the same again. And I remember the distress as people searched for answers and comfort. And I remember very well that for the next few weeks it was popular for even the most self-dependent political leader to end their interviews or conversations with the words, “and God Bless America.”
This was a very clear example of people calling out to God in a time of distress when they had nowhere else to go! But it did not last! In just a few short weeks the same people who were calling on God to bless America had no reason to even acknowledge the existence of God. It was the reaction that God has experienced many times even with His own people. How quickly we as people forget our reliance on the Lord when the immediate threat is gone. Through the last twenty years the ramifications of that day, which are numerous, have continued. But the dependence upon and the calling out to God for help in our nation has regressed to a trickle.
So what can a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ do? First, we can pray! Yes, pray for our nation and leaders. We can pray for God’s will and influence to come upon our nation. Do we believe Proverbs 21:1? “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.” God has all the Sovereign power and will to make even the most powerful leader act according to His will. But we are also told that we will suffer for the cause of Christ. I Peter 4:12-19 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God: and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Therefore the second thing we can do is respond to God’s judgment in our lives and serve the Creator God by doing good in His name. We are to allow God’s will in our lives to move us to obedience and good works for His glory.
This submissive attitude of responding to God’s sovereign judgment is described in II Chronicles 7:14. This was after Solomon had finished dedicating the Temple. God was speaking to Solomon regarding what would happen if the people responded rightly to God’s using difficult situations to bring holy discipline upon His people. “If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Does not God desire the same from His people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior? Does He not desire us to humble ourselves, pray, and seek Him? I think we are more inclined to the prideful seeking of Him akin to the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the tax collector in Luke 18:11. We need to ask God to put to death our pride and unpretentiously seek to honor Him with our lives, whatever that may mean.
And finally, we need to remember! It is critical that we pass on the lessons learned to those who don’t remember what happened. All through the Bible, God’s people are told to “remember” what God has done and how He has been faithful to His people. We are told to “teach” our children what God has said and done. One of the best examples is found in Deuteronomy 11:19, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Not regularly sharing your experiences with your children or those younger than you is a way to encourage them to have to learn those lessons for themselves. While we cannot ensure they will listen, we can give them the blessing of Godly counsel.
So when you are thinking back at the horrendous events twenty years hence, pray, humbly seek to do good, and remember! Those are ways to help God’s people to have the influence in our culture that will have an eternal impact for the better. And remember to thank a First Responder for their selfless service to our community, state, and nation!