This morning, I had the honor of delivering the chaplain’s remarks as we remembered the sobering events of September 11. I am posting my remarks in honor of the Americans who died that day, and in honor of the soldiers that continue to give their lives to defend our country from terrorism.
Sept. 11 Chaplain’s Address
If we’re honest, the events of Sept. 11 were probably definitive in our faith journey. Maybe you asked questions like, “Why did God allow this to happen?” or “How do I make it without my loved one?” or “Where do I go from here?”This morning, I want to address how the events of Sept. 11 are definitive for our faith: in a positive way. With a proper understanding of Scripture and God’s nature, we can learn how the events of that day can deepen our relationship with God and strengthen our faith. I would like to present 3 spiritual truths that are relevant as we reflect on 9/11:1. We Can Grieve With Hope.The process of grief can be a lonely place. When calamity and chaos strike, it is easy to feel as though we have lost our most valuable treasure and have no one to help us shoulder the burden. That we have no one to lean on, or no one that understands the depth of our grief. However, we can take solace in the fact that we never grieve alone. When we are grieving, God is not absent, nor is He far-removed. In fact, the Bible tells us that He is closer to us while we are grieving! Psalm 34:18: The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. When you are broken hearted, and your spirit feels crushed, take comfort in the fact that God knows you are hurting and is right there with you!
2. We Can Rebuild Our Lives With Hope.September 11th reminds us that life is uncertain. We can never be sure of what each day holds. Some days will bring joy; other days will bring tragedy and trials. We have all experienced the shock of unexpected events in our lives. Maybe it was an unforeseen medical condition, the ending of a marriage, a miscarriage, a financial crisis, or being passed over for a promotion. We are reminded in these times that even though life changes, God never changes. Psalm 33:11 says, “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” In an ever-changing world, we can rebuild our lives on the foundation of a loving and consistent God that is unchanging through all circumstances.
3. We Can Live Our Lives With Hope.For many Americans, the events of Sept. 11 set into motion a mindset filled with fear. They became afraid to leave their homes, fly on airplanes, or visit public places because they were fearful of what terrorists could do to them. I would like to share a passage of Scripture with you that combats that mindset, and explains how we can live our lives with hope, courage, and peace.
Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”The words of that passage are words of incredible solace for us today. They give us hope and extreme confidence. There is no plane, no suicide vest, no IED, not any terrorist attack that can separate us from God’s love. When we are at home in the United States, we do not have to be afraid to board a plane, visit a populated metropolitan city, or work in a high-rise office building. While we are deployed, we do not have to fear foreign armies or the weapons at their disposal. We know as soldiers that life is precious and can be taken of us at any moment. However, we can live our lives with the supreme hope and confidence that no weapon is so powerful that it can separate us from God.I would like to leave you with the words of Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
As we reflect on the events of September 11, let us grieve, but also let us move forward with hope.
Moving Forward With Hope
I never know what to blog about on September 11. Everything seems so trivial, and too many times, contrived. I wasn’t in New York City that day. I didn’t lose anyone close to me. In many ways, my life went on as usual.
But for many in our country, their lives will never be the same.
Maybe your life didn’t dramatically change on September 11, 2001 – but maybe you have had a day where it felt like the towers in your life were attacked. Where it seemed as though everything were falling down around you. Where do you turn in those times, as the dust and ashes rise around you?
I’ve read many tributes this morning on Facebook regarding the events of 9/11, but one in particular stood out to me because of its relevance to all of us. A friend of mine is serving as a chaplain in the Middle East and had the honor of giving remarks to the troops today, on 9/11. His words resonated with me. They are powerful first because of his audience – soldiers who face life-threatening harm on a daily basis. But his words are also powerful because of their applicability to all of us.
We have all been through times of grief. How can we move forward with hope? Here are the words of my friend, Chad Cottle.