It is hard to believe that it has been eleven years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – an event that changed the course of our nation and thousands of lives. It was a time when Americans came together hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder and packed churches across the nation for weeks thereafter. For the families of those who lost their lives that fateful day, this time of year no doubt continues to be a struggle to cope with the sudden and unexpected loss of their loved ones. For many the question of why still looms about and stalks their conscience and unconscious thoughts and at times, must consume them to seemingly no end. No doubt that among the thousands of people that went to work that morning at the World Trade Center and Pentagon no one ever thought they were in the final moments of life.
Every year we see the events of that day replayed for us repeatedly and it leaves viewers with a sense of hopelessness and despair, but last year I caught a documentary that was different. It did not focus on global terrorism, world politics, or the dynamics of a changed America, but solely on the men and women who lost their lives. It featured phone conversations between those who were trapped in the towers and their loved ones.
Trapped in his office, one man reached out to his loved ones and the world. He spoke to his wife telling her how much he loved her – he spoke to television reporters given details as best he could of the situation and encouraged the families of those who had loved ones in the towers to be calm. Here is a man who is obviously dealing with his own imminent peril encouraging others to be calm!
A women visiting New York on a business trip was attending a meeting that day in one of the towers just one or two floors above the impact site of the jetliner. Amidst the chaos, she was able to contact her father and husband and her father could sense she knew her fate was sealed and yet, she reminded both of how much she will always love them – always as in eternal perhaps...
These are but two stories of bravery among many and the overarching thought that came to mind as I watched intently was their sense of calmness. Now granted, some may not have completely understood the gravity of the situation – who did at that time? However, it is my belief there was a greater force at work in the midst of this tragedy and that being the work of the Holy Spirit.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
I believe the Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of those who were trapped in the towers and the Pentagon and I believe He was working in the hearts of their family and countless others across the nation. Are we to believe the events of 9/11 caught God off guard - No way! God knew this was going to occur and as a result, I believe thousands came to accept His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and as we watched the towers collapse and fall, heaven saw souls rising up from the ash – Praise the Lord!
Remember the man on the cross next to Jesus who said Jesus did not deserved crucifixion unlike himself and the other man. He asked Jesus that He remember him when He came into His kingdom and Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) On 9/11, I believe there were thousands that felt the warm embrace of Jesus as they entered into paradise.
In the weeks thereafter, thousands upon thousands were filling churches across the nation where people were turning to the cross and giving their lives to Jesus Christ. Were the events of 9/11 both horrifying and tragic – yes indeed, and did they also serve to glorify God through countless salvations – I believe they did.
"Father, I joyfully thank you for the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who perished that fateful day eleven years ago. I humbly ask that you continue to strengthen, comfort, and guide the lives of their family and friends as only you can oh Lord and may your watchful eye be over them always. This I pray to you in the blessed and holy name of Your Son Jesus – Amen."
Just as the Holy Spirit added about three-thousand souls on the Day of Pentecost, so it may have been on 9/11 because though times have certainly changed, God has not. Yes, He is still in the business of extending grace to all who will accept Jesus as his/her Savior and Lord and so, have you?
About the Author: Darryl Orrell is an aspiring pastor, a writer and dedicated servant of God sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. He writes weekly devotions to inspire other believers as well as to lead those who are yet lost to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. You can find him on the web at http://thoughtof-theweek.blogspot.com.