We talk about where we were that day.
We talk about what life and air travel and national security was like "before 9/11".
We realize that we now live in a "post-9/11" world and that life will never be the same again.
Today, twelve years after the terrorist attacks, I dwell on those things, too.
I was teaching that day, running my usual circuit as an itinerant ESOL teacher, going from school to school. What I remember the most is getting in my car and hearing on the news that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane. At that moment, they didn't know how many people were in the tower, only that it was possible that 50,000 people were inside, and the potential loss of so many lives was overwhelming.
As I went from school to school, each time I got in my car, or went into a school building, the news got worse. Another tower hit. Both towers down. The Pentagon hit. A plane down in Pennsylvania. As a teacher, I kept it together for my students. But inside, like everyone else I encountered that day, I was numb, and realized that our world had just changed in irreversible ways.
September 11 was part of my "before" in other ways, too.
It was before I was married.
It was before I had children - children for whom 9/11 is an event on their history timeline, but not a part of their memories.
It was before I buried my daughter Naomi, and said good-bye to two other babies.
It was before I wrestled on a deeply personal level with the question of why God, being perfectly good and all-powerful, allows such tragedies to happen - and why one person is spared and another isn't.
Thinking back to 9/11 today, I have a profound answer to that question.
I don't know.
I know the theological answer, that our world is broken and sin-scarred and that God allows us free will and so sinful people do awful things and sometimes our bodies don't work and babies die.
But as to why this person was late to work the morning of 9/11 and so was not in his office when the towers were hit, or why that dear friend was in the wrong place at the wrong time to encounter a drunk driver, or why my body had to start breaking down at exactly the wrong moment to cause my baby to die in my womb.
I don't know.
But I know this. God is good. God is sovereign. He's got this, and someday when we see Him face-to-face it will either make sense or it won't matter anymore.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." And may I add...
...though towers fall
...though loved ones don't come home
...though modern medicine fails to heal
...though babies die
In spite of it all - He is worthy of our trust and our hope.
In fact, He is the only one who is worthy of it.
Today, on the anniversary on 9/11, in what area are you struggling to trust God? Do you dare to believe in His goodness and love, in spite of the tragedies of this life? This is what faith is - not mustering up enough willpower to believe that God will protect you and your loved ones from harm, but trusting in His character, in Who He is, regardless of what you encounter on life's journey. This is what He calls us to, those of us who follow Him, who point to an ugly Roman cross and an empty stone tomb as the ultimate proof of God's love and power.
Do you believe it??