Anyone who is old enough to remember can recount what his or her day looked like exactly twelve years ago today. I read and heard stories from others throughout the day doing just that … a friend feeling as though all he needed to do was to get to his soon-to-be fiancée to hold her tight and a teacher having to maintain her composure all day at school because she wasn’t able to talk with students about what had happened. Others just simply shared words of encouragement or of thoughtful remembrance. It was one of the worst days.
Yet, there was good. All of us who can remember also recall the valiant heroes that emerged in those dark days; firefighters, police officers, member of the military, city officials, civilians, etc.
This seems to be the case with every tragedy, doesn’t it? We can all remember our own emotions … how the breath was taken right out of our chest when we heard the news, how much we cried, how much we ached for those families immediately impacted. And yet, we can also recall the hope in those times … those moments that restored our faith in humanity and in our faith in general.
The first thing that came to mind this morning was a verse. Jeremiah 29:11 frequently finds its way into my thoughts in challenging times:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
So, I posted that as my status this morning. Simply, “jeremiah 29:11”.
Tonight, as I was trying to decide if I could talk about good coming from bad (especially on a day like today), I found a reflection on today’s events authored by Max Lucado. He talked about hope arising from despair and I wanted to share a portion of that message that I’m pretty sure was the result of a divine clickthrough (instead of appointment. You’ve heard of that right?). Here’s the snippet:
” … Neither did Jennifer Sands, who lost her husband when the twin towers fell. She was in a dark pit that first Christmas after 9/11, her heart broken as she trudged through the mall. But she dropped a dollar into the red Salvation Army kettle and received a card in exchange for her gift. She collapsed wearily into her car and read the card to find distraction from her heart’s pain. It bore a picture of the American flag, a silhouette of the towers bearing the words “9-11-01—We Will Not Forget You” and this Scripture verse: “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11, NIV).
Sands recalls, “It was the first time in my life—ever—that I had taken notice of a Bible verse. Sure, I had seen Bible verses before … but I never paid attention to them. The words hope and future jumped out at me. More importantly, it seemed like God Himself had just broken the silence and spoken to me. Because of that verse, I opened the Bible for the first time in my life and started reading it. That Scripture verse changed things.”
Connor and I spoke briefly about September 11 when I picked him up this afternoon. We didn’t even really get into detail. It had rained not long before our talk so the ground was wet, but the sky was beginning to clear. Suddenly he said, “Mom, there’s a rainbow in those clouds over there.” I craned my head over to the side to check it out and it took me a minute but finally after he pointed it out three or four times, I spotted it. I said, “Oh wow, there it is! What a perfect thing for a day like today.”
Connor responded, “Yeah. That means He’s never going to do it again.”
I was floored; such a young soul with such profound words. Sure he was reiterating what God had told Noah back in the day, but it was just … perfect.
We can’t be assured that something of the magnitude of September 11, 2001 won’t happen again. Or Sandy Hook. Or as recently as Boston. In fact, it is entirely possible. But, we can be certain that out of the worst the very best can result. Like a national day of service. Or families reuniting. Or someone finding peace in something greater than herself. Or … or. And some might argue that’s a super naive statement to make, but as I mentioned earlier, I believe in hope; naive or otherwise.