Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
For our generation, 9/11 is probably the defining event of our lives, at least in the sense of a tragedy that touched an entire nation, even an entire world. Because of 9/11, I think I have a better understanding of what people felt when President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated.
It was always interesting to hear people talk about how they remembered exactly where they were when the president was shot. But I felt somewhat detached from the true emotion of that event, because I was experiencing it second hand. I got a small taste of that type of sadness when John Lennon was murdered and then again when the Challenger exploded. I do remember where I was when the Challenger was lost, and I did mourn for those aboard as well as for their families. In trying to suss out my true feelings, I think that though the Challenger explosion was horrifying, there is also some truth in the idea that space travel carries with it an inherent risk.
And it could be argued that anything we do carries risk. But for everyday folks going off to work , the risks they felt they were facing were much smaller. The possibility of tripping on the curb; having a fender bender; missing a bus; etc. I have to believe that very few of them, if any, walked out their doors that day thinking it could be their last day on earth. And the events of that morning are crystal clear in my mind. At that time I was co-owner of a sales repping firm. My business partner had our office in her basement. I got up that morning and as I was getting ready to drive over to her house I had the news on. I remember sort of half listening to it and then I realized they were talking about a small plane hitting a building in New York. I wasn’t really too familiar with the twin towers; and I remember feeling bad for the pilot, and assuming he or she had maybe suffered a heart attack or stroke. And then, in what seemed like a very short time later, another plane hit the second tower. Now the television had my full attention. No one really understood at first what was actually happening. I was listening to the Today Show and they had a reporter at the Pentagon. They had him on the phone and were discussing what was happening when suddenly he got very excited and told us that there had been an explosion in the Pentagon.
At this point I couldn’t bear to be alone, so I quickly drove to the office only to find that my business partner had gone to the health club that morning. I sat in her living room alone with the televison and sobbed as I watched the people fall and jump from the crumbling towers. The enormity of what was happening was so overwhelming. All those people, all those people. To have to make a choice to either burn to death, die from smoke inhalation, or jump to your death – how? How would you make that choice? And what if it was the wrong choice? And then I thought of all the husbands and wives and children who would see this footage and suffer again and again. As I write this I am crying. I have never been able to fully wrap my mind around the abomination of 9/11.
When my business partner finally arrived, she had no idea what had been happening. She’d been listening to her CD player at the health club, and hadn’t turned the radio on in her car. I couldn’t begin to really explain what a terrible thing had happened. All I could do was have her watch it unfold over and over again on t.v.
And as we all know, in the midst of this immense heartbreak, wonderful stories of heroism and kindness arose. And we needed them. It gave us something to hang on to. Something to show us that the world wasn’t completely upside down, in spite of the evidence. It gave us hope. I remember how eerie it was to not hear any airplanes flying over – I think that lasted about a week. So much has changed since then, but so much has stayed the same.
I just read a book by Randy Alcorn called If God Is Good. This is a book that takes a Biblical view of suffering and why we suffer. I had a difficult time putting this book down because it affected me in such a positive way. It shed some light on questions I had (and even on many things I hadn’t thought of). I think in particular it helped me to understand that our suffering in this world is so small in comparison to the wonder of the next world we will live in. And that gives me more hope than I can possibly desire. Life can and does change in an instant, but it goes on.