Summary: Let’s make sense of how we are to face the present and the future after suffering such evil-motivated attacks on our way of life.
September 16, 2001
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
This is the new face of war…the invisible enemy can attack anywhere…without warning…safety is a thing of the past.
I…looked over at the Twin Towers and felt like I was dreaming. I was in shock and the image is still crystal clear in my mind…I am scared…
(Two AOL message board postings)
We have all been very deeply affected this week. (Or has it been a month of years?). Many years ago another man felt this way. His life, like many of ours, was going along as the successful American dream. Then, in one hour, everything changed:
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and the fourth plane that was diverted and crashed near Pittsburgh, we are left to fight the impact in our lives, and the lives of our entire country - and freedom-loving people everywhere.
Job helps us today in the sense that we know we are not alone. This has happened many times in man’s history. Evil is not new. However, we must deal with our feelings now, and come to grips with our changed world.
I listened to the TV like you did. I researched the Internet for other reports. Every counselor quoted suggested we attempt to talk to each other - deal with our fears, anger and sadness corporately. Let’s put a name on what we are feeling:
¨ Shock Numbness, bewilderment…this is the I can’t believe this is happening which is so normal when tragedy of this magnitude strikes. Elizabeth’s cousin, John Michaels witnessed the second Boeing jet crash into Tower 2 from his office window only a block away. He exited his office building and ran nearly 3 miles. He is in shock, traumatized by the immensity of the devastation.
¨ Rage often sets in when the shock comes down. There is an overwhelming desire for revenge - to strike back. Don’t imagine people of faith never want to get even. We have human emotions - which include striking at the evil with blind rage. People of faith attempt to control that…but we do have the feeling.
¨ Fear I have half-seriously said to some of you this week that Thomasville is, relatively speaking, a non-issue in terms of terrorism. After all, there is not much military incentive to destroying furniture. But, still, in the 1950’s we did A-bomb drills in the little Quonset huts in my hometown school. Little children don’t fear based upon military strategy. And, we are all prone to fear that the next plane will come down in our yard.
¨ Defeat/Humiliation In the first grade, the class bully jumped me from behind while I was playing at recess. He got me on the ground, sat on me, and punched me in the back. I never saw him…even after the teacher pulled him off my back. Even though the cowardice was his, I felt humiliated. I still don’t like to lose.
¨ Violation We are connected. We are North Carolinians, but New York is part of America. We are more like the circus elephants in a parade, when it comes to this - we are tied, trunk-to-tail, trunk-to-tail. As it was in my family so many years ago, my own older brother would tease me, sit on me and tickle me till I cried - but nobody else in the world had better try it! Attack New York, Washington? You are pushing the wrong envelope in North Carolina, and 49 other states!
¨ Loss Who can tell the magnitude of loss we feel? My body feels like I have been crying for a month. My soul feels emptied, like I’ve preached a dozen funerals back to back. My mind is on overload with the images of death. My heart, that pastor’s heart I got from the Lord, is attempting to take-on more of other people’s grief than I can imagine, let alone bear. "Loss" hardly begins to scratch the surface.
What now? What about the future?
It is nearly impossible to look beyond today at the moment. The images of suffering, dashed hopes of rescue, and the unfolding investigation are about all my mind can take in at one time without exploding.
But we must always consider what we do. We must always look to the future. The question is, how? How shall we look? With what eyes shall we see that which is unfolding before us? I give you Paul’s advice to his young disciple, Timothy, the next generation. Timothy was to pick up the baton, the torch of freedom, and carry it on while Paul went home, his battle done. I give you the eyes of God for the next generation, as spoken through the pen of a broken and battered old disciple.