Summary: Three things Christians know that empower them to face horrible suffering with courage and hope.
Note: This sermon was introduced with a video clip from the North American Missions Board of the Southern Baptists called "Where Were You?"
Where were you? I can still remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news on the radio about the World Trade Center. I was taking my oldest son to school, and when we heard about the plane crashing into the first tower, we both started praying. I remember the shock of seeing the towers collapse, and then seeing the devastation at the Pentagon. I remember wondering if United flight 93 was highjacked as well, and then seeing the wreckage of the crash site in Pennsylvania. In many ways, we’re still trying to make sense of the events of last September 11.
We try to relate what happened to our previous experiences. For those alive when President Kennedy was assassinated, perhaps you relate the events of 9/11 to how you felt at the moment you heard about the president’s assassination. Or perhaps you relate it to how you felt when you heard about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Or if you’re a bit older, perhaps to how you felt when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet the events of September 11 stand in a category all by themselves.
So we gather this day to remember. To remember the heroes who put themselves in harm’s way to rescue others. To remember the innocent victims whose lives were cut short. To remember the people on United flight 93, who fought back and saved the lives of many. And we gather to remember in the context of a worship service. You see, one of the things the terrorists hate is our nation’s freedom of religion.
So I can’t think of a better way to express our resolve and resiliency as a nation than to gather to worship this day, to express our freedom of religion.
As we remember, I want to ask one question: What do Christians know that helps them face horrible suffering with courage.
Now I don’t mean to suggest that Christians are the only people who have shown courage in the wake of September 11. Certainly people of all faiths and all backgrounds have demonstrated heroism and resolve.
That’s part of what makes our nation great. No one has a corner on the market of courage. Yet there’s something in the courage of Christians that’s unique and profound.
I think especially about Lisa Beamer, the young widow of Todd Beamer. Lisa is the mother of two young children, and when September 11 occurred she was pregnant with their third child. In many ways, Lisa Beamer became an icon of American strength and resolve. When Stone Phillips of Dateline NBC interviewed her, he called Lisa Beamer the most courageous and remarkable person he’d ever interviewed. Larry King from CNN had similar comments about Lisa. When Larry King asked Lisa about her strength, she said, “Sometimes people look at me and wonder, ‘Is she in shock? Or is she unrealistic about what the situation is?’…Certainly the faith I have…helps me to understand the bigger picture here…We have more to look forward to than just what we see on this earth” (Let’s Roll 242). And again and again she points to her faith in Jesus Christ as the source of her courage and resiliency.