He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” . . . He will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and your rampart. Psalm 91: 1 – 2; 4
September 11, 2001. Remembering this day 13 years ago still brings such painful memories. The images that flashed before us on our TV screens have been forever imprinted on our minds and hearts. We each have our stories of that sad day as we recall exactly where we were when the attacks occurred, what we were doing, and even what emotions we felt.
I was in the classroom with my 8th grade students, just getting our day started with a Language Arts lesson. As the news traveled throughout the school that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, we all immediately turned on our TV’s. I can still hear the silence in our room as we watched in disbelief. I can still see the looks on those young faces and the fear in their eyes. For these 13 and 14 year olds, it was a harsh lesson in reality that life can be so uncertain – that any day can bring disaster or unexpected events into our lives. But even harder for them to grasp was the realization that such evil could exist in the minds and hearts of others.
After the 2nd tower was hit, we turned off the TV’s so as not to upset the students anymore than they already were. We feared what would happen next, and our administrators thought it best that we return to our assignments and go on with our day as normally as possible. I don’t know which was more difficult for all of us – watching in horror, or not knowing what was going on.
I remember thinking, “How can anything ever be normal again? Our country has just experienced a terrorist attack on our homeland and none of us will ever feel safe again.” I wanted so badly to reassure these kids that everything would be ok and that they were safe. I spoke the words to them over and over, but I knew they were having the same thoughts I was: “How could this be happening and what will be next? And what about all those people in the towers?”
We went through the motions, but I knew they too, like me, just wanted to know our family members were safe, we wanted to be with them, and to hold them close. I remember thinking how fragile life is and how much we take our normal days and loved ones for granted. And I prayed. I kept asking God to be with those in harm’s way, with their families, with those who were assisting, and I prayed for our country. That gave me the sense of calmness I needed, and we all somehow made it through the day.
I am sure none of us thought at the time that life could ever be normal again. But our amazing God gave us the grace to move forward with confidence and hope. Yes, there have been other dark days in our nation and in our lives which have caused much anxiety and sadness. But those of us who trust in His care know that He will always carry us through the deepest valleys of despair. He is our refuge, and we can “rest in the shadow of our Almighty God.” He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, we have experienced His faithfulness, and we can trust in His Word.
We don’t know what the future will bring. It, too, often seems scary and uncertain, but one thing we can be sure of, is that His strength, presence, and comfort will always be with us. Our God understands our fears and concerns. We have His promise that no matter what happens around us, we can find refuge in Him.
Our most loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for the hope and assurance we can find in you. We pray for those who don’t know your love and saving grace, for those who are consumed with hatred for others, and for our nation and our world during these uncertain times. Amen