On this, the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the world seemed to come apart, we pause and reflect on just how fragile we, and our world, seems to be.
When the world crashes down around us, we look to God, and we look to each other, for comfort and strength. And this is just as it should be.
God assures us that He will grant us comfort, strength and peace in times of tragedy and times of struggle and pain. Many turn in difficult times to the comfort of the Twenty-third Psalm, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Also they turn also to Isaiah: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Jesus assures us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)
And just like the entire world in which we all live, the individual world in which we live is in danger all the time of crashing down around us.
A lost job; a car accident; a natural disaster; the loss of a spouse, a child or a parent; the sudden end of a relationship, an unexpected terminal illness, all of these can put us in a place of pain and anguish.
These and many more can become our personal Nine-Elevens - far less devastating on a national scale, for sure, but personally and closely devastating nonetheless.
How do we get through our tragedies? With the help of others, and with the help of God.
We are often shaken and damaged by our circumstances, and our reaction to our struggles, frankly, is often to retreat inside ourselves and hide.
Our spirits were made by our Creator to comfort others, and to also seek the comfort of others in our time of need.
We are called to be the light of the world, and in times of trouble, we demonstrate that light.
On 9/11, rescue workers, ministers, and the people of New York City rushed in to help those hurt and those whose families had died in the attack, many putting their safety and even their long-term health in harm's way for others.
Jesus says that there is no greater love than to give one’s life for his friends, and we are his friends if we do what he calls us to do. (John 15:13)
The firemen and police officers who risked their lives to enter the Twin Towers that fateful day to attempt to save others were surely the friends of Jesus. They were literally the light that guided many to safety, before losing their own lives.
There are some who raised their fists to the sky that day, and on many days since, and said, “Why, God? Why are YOU doing this to US?” But they miss the point. God, and God’s chosen spokesman, Jesus, calls us to be HIS hands, HIS loving arms, and HIS sympathetic tears here on this earth.
God is not in the destruction, but in the healing after it. He is not in the storm, assures the psalmist, but in the "small, still voice" following the storm. (1 Kings 19:12)
Jesus assures us that God is our Father, who loves us so much that he chose Jesus and sent him out to preach a Good and Beneficial Message (Gospel) throughout the world. (John 3:16; Luke 4:43)
Whenever we comfort the afflicted, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, and comfort those in need after a tragedy, we are comforting Jesus himself, and we are acting as God wishes us to act. (Matt. 25:40)
Let us be the light in times of darkness that Jesus calls us to be.