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Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

November 22, 1963 began as just another day for me.  As my school friends and I sat in Mrs. Nethery’s high school English class, none of us expected to receive news so shocking that we would never forget where we were when told of the events that had taken place earlier that day.  During the middle of our class period, the school principal came to the classroom door, spoke to Mrs. Nethery in a low tone and then left.  Soon afterward, she told us that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  It was a time of shock, fear, confusion, and great sadness.  In the days that followed, we felt a sense of insecurity. But, even though we mourned as a nation, America came through the terrible events of that November day.  We carried on and we survived.  But we will never forget.

On September 11, 2001, some thirty-eight years after President Kennedy’s assassination, I was once again in a school setting, but this time as an employee.  Just before 9:00 a.m., my daughter called advising me to turn the TV on because something awful was happening in New York City. With shock and sadness my co-workers and I watched in anguish, as we saw the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center badly damaged and burning.  In the early stages of the story, the news media reported that some kind of plane had crashed into the building.  At that time there was no clear knowledge of what had actually happened, but we who were gathered around the TV felt that soon we would learn more details.  A few moments later, we sat watching in horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  Then came news that an American Airlines flight had crashed into the Pentagon.  Soon we were seeing live news reports from that awful scene.  By this time, it was clear that these were not coincidences, but a deliberate and calculated attack on our country.

As the news focused back to the World Trade Center, my co-workers and I watched in silence as the first tower fell. Minutes later the other tower followed suit.  It was like a scene out of a movie that you know is not real.  Only, this was very real and unlike anything we had ever seen. Reports had already surfaced regarding the hijacking and crash of a United Airlines flight near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We later learned that were it not for a group of brave passengers determined to prevent the hijackers of this plane from completing their suicide mission, the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House would most likely have been the final target.

On September 14, 2001, at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. a memorial service was held for the victims who lost their lives in the terrorist’s attacks of September 11th. President George W. Bush said something that I firmly believe and want to share.  I quote the President: God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that His purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard, and understood.  There are prayers that help us last through the day, or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.”

As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of these horrific attacks against our country, we remember approximately 3,000 souls whose lives were lost that day. We remember and pray for each family as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved one. We pay special tribute to the first responders of September  11th who survived that day, many of whom now suffer from serious respiratory disease and other illnesses directly related to the poor air quality conditions near the site of the collapse of the buildings.  Their heroism on September 11th and in the days that followed will always be honored and appreciated.

Truly, September 11, 2001 is a day that we will never forget, nor should we. While we do not understand why tragedies like this happen, God’s Word tells us that He is always with us; that He has a purpose for each of us; and that all things work together for good to those who love Him.  Sometimes, it is through the most tragic times that we are prone to draw nearer to God and rely on Him, because we understand that we are powerless over our situation.  God loves us and will always be with us, regardless of the bad things that may happen.  May this day serve as a reminder that evil does exist in the world and that there are those who continually want to do harm to us, to our way of life, and to our country.  May we also be reminded that we are to pray for those who want to harm us, because it is only through God's Spirit that their hearts and attitudes will be changed.  Let us remember that life is short and we have no promise of tomorrow. Therefore, we should make every moment count. Live it for Christ, because life is a passing thing.

May God bless America and may each of us acknowledge Him, honor Him, and live according to His purposes, for His glory alone.  Please pray for our country, our leaders and citizens alike.  We are in great times of hardship.  Be encouraged by the scriptures below.  They are God’s promises to each of us.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness”.  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5b (NIV)

Prayer:  Father, God, we pray that on this day you will comfort all those who mourn the loss of their loved ones on 9-11-01.  Give each person Your purpose and Your direction for their life.  We ask You to protect our country and keep us safe from those who would seek to harm us.  Help us to honor You in all things and never forget that You love us so much that you gave Your Son, Jesus, so that we might believe in Him and have eternal life.  We pray these things in Jesus name.  Amen.

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