2003-11-27 - Reasons for Thanks
1 Thess 5:16-18 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (NAS)
September 11th now holds the same devastating impact on American history as December 7th. The World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks killed thousands of people from over 90 countries. In a horrific act of cowardice a group of men willfully took control of several commercial civilian airliners with such dark intent that it was literally beyond the reason of many people. Children were orphaned in a number instances as both parents were killed in the collapse of the two skyscrapers. Husbands, fathers, mothers, brother, sisters, sons, daughters and friends were lost - some trying to save others. We watched in horror as two people jumped hand-in-hand from 100 stories up to escape the flames. Just as investigators and work crews sifted through the rubble of the three buildings hoping to identify those killed, or to find clues as to what went wrong and why the towers collapsed, we must sift through to find reasons to give thanks.
I can certainly understand if your reaction is amazement. What happened was terrible. There have been civil liberties we should hold dear as a nation set aside by law for an undetermined period of time which is also terrible. But there have been so many stories of people who made decisions that saved so many. One NJ PATH train driver made a last desperate run into the station below the World Trade Center and met a dozen stranded people who would have surely been crushed. Office workers helped a friend in a wheelchair down the endless flights of stairs. We should be thankful for these heroes. God placed these people where He needed them to accomplish His purpose.
I know a friend who jogged an extra mile and took a later train "because something led me to run that extra mile". His train was stopped just before it would have entered New York City. The first tower was already on fire. The second tower was struck as he walked to the harbor from the train to see what had happened. I am convinced, though he is not a Christian, that God touched his heart that morning and he listened. God has plans for him. Some offices were closed immediately by managers who felt "led" to get their people out of the building. We should be thankful to the God of second chances.
Since that dreadful day I have seen more flagpoles go up. I see more flags flown faithfully. I see a country that has rediscovered itself. We were galvanized as a nation. We held our children a little closer. We sought answers. We were reminded that evil unchecked does not care about 'the rules'. We were reminded of the depth of human depravity. We were given a taste of our finite-ness and our mortality. Churches were filled with people seeking answers. Many found what they were seeking in Jesus Christ as Savior. Many more still will. We should be thankful for the salvation offered freely to humanity. We should be thankful for the heroes who kept the churches open and listened, talked and prayed with the countless who came seeking.
To those who escaped each second is more precious. To those who lost loved ones who knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord they have the pain of separation and the solace of knowing their loved ones are waiting for them in Heaven. We have learned to be thankful for our soldiers, firefighters and police officers. I hope and pray that our memories are not short. And that we as a nation learn to look to God for guidance and protection.
We were left with a sort of a relic. The flag that flew on that clear morning atop one of the towers was found in the rubble. It was torn in several places but remarkably intact. On a few special occasions it has been used, cleaned but none of its wounds have been mended. It was used at the recent Olympic Games opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City . I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the flag being carried out by the honor guard into that silent arena. You could hear the footfalls of the bearers. God has given us heroes for the moments, salvation and second chances for humanity along with reminders of our frailty and need, and he has given us reminders to never forget those things we are thankful for, those who work and fight for our safety and the people we all lost as families, as a nation and a world.
Romans 8:28 - Happy Thanksgiving.
Grace & Peace,