Summary: God can heal any wound. This is the story of a firefighter that I met that was trapped in the ruble of 9/11.

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Hope does not come without suffering.

Romans 5:3,4 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

In this verse we see in order how hope is found. First something in our life God allows that causes us some suffering. That suffering can come in many forms to complete God’s perfect plan. In order to get through suffering you need to learn to persevere not in your strength but finally persevere in the Lords strength. That may take many, many lessons and years to learn but God is patient with you. You cannot go through a long period of suffering without developing character. Character refines us by taking away the glitter and false hope of this world and leaves our emotions bare. Suffering shows us for who we really are. That can be very scary but it is necessary for us to move on in the Lord when we can see who we are and not the “person” we have created in our own minds to impress people. These are two different people. Suffering if you allow God to work in your life will destroy the fake and bring out the true you. Then if you have allowed God to be your God, you have prayed and seen Him bring you out of the darkness into the light, then you finally have the hope of the Lord in your heart.

The hope of the world is a false charade. The hope in Jesus will never puff you up or let you down. It is only by suffering that our faith is refined and our hope is set on the right person.

Thank you for everyone praying for me yesterday as I gave the opening prayer at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Honor 9/11 and their annual blood drive. It was such a moving experience that I broke down about 45 minutes before it started when other performers were signing. I had a friend take me up on top of the Speedway to look down on all the flags that had been put there to Honor the lives lost of the first responders. Then I realized that each flag represented more than one person. Each flag represented an entire family and friends that were affected by one person’s loss. Somehow the music stirred my soul and then I had to get away to a quiet place so I could calm down. Then I met him.

I met this man in a Fireman’s’ uniform with a New York accent. The Speedway had flown in three men who had been First Responders that day 10 years ago. This man gave me a chilling account of his day. His firehouse was only a couple blocks from the World Trade Center. When the first plane hit they went immediately. They were told to stay in the lobby as the first fireman was killed by someone jumping from the upper floors. Then they could hear it. They could hear many, many more jumping and breaking the plexiglas that connected the two buildings. Then the second plane hit and “All hell broke lose”. That saying couldn't be more appropriate for the day. If the day had been cloudy with fog the attacks would have never happened. But that day you could see for 100 miles. It was the perfect day to carry out a plan of evil.

At some point this firefighter had to go out and attend to victims of this disaster. Then he heard what sounded like the rumbling of the subway underneath him. “It was coming down”. The entire building was coming down as this firefighter was less than 100 feet from the tower. He ran as fast as he could and when he saw that he wasn’t going to make it he dove under a parked SUV. As he dove for cover the debris field covered the car and it became night with no light. He thought he was covered with debris but it was the dark cloud that enveloped the south of Manhattan that day. After and hour under the car he could see a glimmer of light. Another hour passed and he was able to move debris away and get out. He said that every car and fire truck that was near ground zero was like this: “Take a matchbox car and drop a 16 lb bowling ball on it. That is what the vehicles looked like”. He stayed at Ground Zero for two more continuous days looking for friends and for any one he could help.

He told me he finally had back surgery from his injuries that day and will be retiring this year. But yesterday I met three heroes. A lot of times we refer to athletes as heroes but that is just a saying. There are no heroes except those who are willing to give up their life to save others. 9/11 produced many heroes from the ground to the sky that day. You see a hero never starts out wanting to be a hero, it just happens. No one went to work that day expecting to experience the horror of this. But God can raise within each of us His will to do so much more than we could ever do on our own.

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