Looking back to move forward.
18 years ago today at this hour, I was in shock. On that beautiful, late summer day, I was going about my work in the Urban Light Center, preparing for a busy day of ministry, when I got the news of an airplane crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Along with the rest of the civilized world, I had a hard time believing what I was seeing. After another airliner slammed into the adjacent South Tower within 20 minutes, there was no longer any doubt. America was under attack.
All 157 passengers and crew on board those two jets were murdered. 2606 people who were just going about their day, in and around the Twin Towers were also killed by the hijackers. Included in that number are 343 firefighters, 72 police officers, and 55 military service members. Terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda used two more planes as weapons that infamous day. One crashed into the Pentagon. The other in a field in Pennsylvania. Altogether, 2,977 people were killed (not counting the 19 hijackers), and more than 6,000 others were injured in the attacks.
But, that’s not the end of the story. America fought back against the evil people and the diabolical ideology that drives their murderous campaigns. The World Trade Center has been rebuilt – bigger and better. I’ve had the blessing of looking out from the observation deck of Freedom Tower, also called 1 World Trade Center. It’s a marvelous sight. It and the other new buildings and structures on the site are part of the memorization effort. The reconstruction makes an important statement that America is determined to not be defeated by the evil forces that want to destroy our way of life.
As we look back on that fateful day in 2001 and the rebuilding that followed, let it spur us on in our individual lives. When we are knocked down, get back up and move on to greater things. As Christians, when we are persecuted because of our faith, let us say as did Apostle Paul:
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NKJV
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Paul goes on to remind us, even if we are killed for our faith, “He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus …” (vs 14).