I remember 9/11 vividly. I came into my social studies class, and sat down in my assigned table with three girls with names close to mine in the alphabet. That is how we were organized in 7th grade. The TV was on, and the question I asked my classmates was “Is this a scene from a movie?”. I was 13 years old, and the words “Terrorism, terrorist, Radical muslim, osama bin laden, Al Qaeda, etc” were not in my vocabulary. It wasnt real. The scene, the mood. It all seemed so unbelievable to all of us that I think we could not comprehend it at the time. Concerned parents came to pick up their kids, but for the most part, life carried on in my own little world. (To prove how naive I was, my greatest frustration with 9/11 came when the SEC announced that all games for that weekend would be postponed and moved to the end of the season.)
Although I did not realize it at the time, the attacks of that day signaled a tectonic shift in the foundation of American life. Like most people, I had my questions.
How could this happen to us? We are the United States, things like this are not supposed to happen. Who did it? What are we going to do next?
9/11 truly changed everything. The attacks injected fear into most of America. A fear we had never felt before. New words were inserted into every day conversations. New security measures were put into place. We had been hit hard, by an enemy that the average American had never even heard of, in one of our greatest cities.
It has been 10 years since that day, and needless to say I have learned a lot. I think it is important to reflect and consider the lessons that we learned from 9/11.
1) Security and control are an illusion
Control is defined as “The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.“
Security is defined as “The state of being free from danger or threat.”
9/11 taught us that security and control are illusions. We perceive that they exist, but in reality, they do not exist. We feel
secure, and we feel
in control, but they simply do not exist. You can attempt to control your own little world, but I can assure you of this: one day something will happen which will wreck your world, and you wont know what to do. That is why it is so important to allow God to control your life. Read Job 38 (link here
) and try and tell me that you are in control of your life.
As for security, the question is how do you define security? What does security mean in your life? Does security mean having a lot of money? Does security mean having a lot of power?
The truth is, security on this earth does not exist. Are you ever completely “free from danger or threat” while on this Earth?
The only security that matters is knowing that your soul is secure for eternity by the blood of Jesus Christ.
(Matthew 10:28- Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.)
2) Evil is real
America has the benefit and the curse of being shielded from the harsh realities of life. We truly are a blessed nation. Even the average poor American is better off than most of the world. In my opinion, this has produced an arrogance that denies the existence of evil.
We have been shielded from war, famine, genocide, terrorism etc. I do not claim to even have an elementary grasp of the harsh realities of life, because I have not faced them. But I also do not deny the existence of evil. I once heard a pastor say “The best thing satan can do is convince you that he doesnt exist”. I believe that to be true.
On 9/11, the effects of evil were on display for the entire world to see and Americans were awakened to one of the harsh realities of life- Evil is real.
3) Hate is destructive
Hate is defined as “Intense or passionate dislike”.
This lesson is closely tied to the previous one regarding evil. I will not go into great detail, but hate is destructive. The hatred shown towards the United States on 9/11 resulted in the loss of nearly 3,000 lives. Check out this article detailing the destruction associated with 9/11. http://nymag.com/news/articles/wtc/1year/numbers.htm
4) Life is valuable
Arguably the most important lesson we learned on 9/11: Life is valuable. It breaks my heart that this lesson is most often learned through the loss of life.
Allow me to share a personal note on this topic. Due to the recent passing of my mom, this particular lesson is very real to me. A truth that I discovered in this time goes something like this: We notice the absence of something, more than we appreciate the presence of that same thing. (In my case, my mother). I notice her absence on a daily basis, but I did not appreciate her presence on a daily basis.
Life was stolen on 9/11.
We know life is valuable because we are “made in God’s image” – Gen 1:27.
I can not write this section without asking this question- If the death of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 is a horrendous tragedy, what about the over 3,000 unborn Americans that are killed each day via abortion?
Do not be deceived; life is valuable at all stages.
5) Heroes still exist
9/11 showed us that heroes still exist.
Men like Todd Beamer, who, when confronted by terrorism on Flight 93 decided to act boldly with others to thwart more damage.
Or men like Rick Rescorla, whose vigilance in preparing prior to 9/11 led to the successful evacuation of over 2,000 people. He ultimately lost his life directing people out of the building because he was the last one out.
Or the countless first responders who ran into burning buildings when everyone else was running out. They had to know after the first tower collapsed that they were not going to survive.
In a day full of tremendous death, destruction and darkness, there was still silver lining.
Which brings me to my next point…
6) God is in control
He’s still God, He’s still God, HE IS STILL GOD!! HE STILL REIGNS AND HE IS STILL IN CONTROL!!
As I said earlier, control is an illusion. The truth is that God is in control. Nothing happens outside of His sight. Moving on from 9/11, we can find comfort in knowing that ultimately God is in control of the situation.
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.
Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.