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by Phil Ware

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    We remember!

    The memories of 9-11 are inescapable, indelible, and impossible to purge from our minds. In those first few days after the tragedy, we watched in hypnotic disbelief again and again. The stories of the people, the lives lost and those who had loved ones perish, captivated us and captured our hearts. Now, a year later, what we may have let slip away now floods back over us in a torrent of stories, images, and memories. The articles, images, and TV specials have brought it all back to life as an emotional event as well as an historical reality.

    Remembering 9-11 isn’t the issue. The memories are horrifyingly engraved in our minds. Every trip to the airport reminds us of our changed world. Every flight puts us on the edge of our seats. The TV specials, flash animations, and PowerPoint presentations have sealed the images of this otherworld experience in our heads and hearts. The nightly news of a declining economy, Middle East violence, and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan keep the tumult of our changed world on the front burner of our thought.

    We cannot escape 9-11 and its realities. For those who lost loved ones, loss and tragedy are the haunting realization in each new day. Forgetting is impossible, but remembering is hard because it hurts; it’s a brutal reality. As much as we would like to wake up and the world be the same as it was September 10, 2001, it can never be that world again. We remember! We will not forget! We cannot cleanse our minds of horror’s residue and loss; nor should we!

    But do we remember with hope?

    Hope? Why would we remember with hope?

    Yes, there are reasons to hope. Life has gone on. Babies have been born, the living legacy of fathers who did not come home. Life has been nobler. We have seen the return of real heroes — something lost in the hype and glitter of celebrities and superstars is now replaced by heroic sacrifice and service. Life has been more aware. People have wrestled with real questions about meaning and purpose and not just lost themselves in consumerism and selfishness. Life has been recharged with an earnestness and awareness of what is precious. Family, faith, freedom, and friendship are returned to a place of high regard.

    But is there bedrock hope, something unshakable by tragedy?

There are reasons to hope.
    Yes, many of us of faith have returned to God’s promise of an unshakeable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:27-29) — a place where God rules human hearts that has eternal relationships and the promise of reunion. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) Death is not victorious in this world of faith, because God has waded into the world of evil, absorbed its worst blows, and returned bruised but not defeated. (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58) We remember with hope because we share the faith and the history of those who have suffered worst defeats at the hands of evil and hung on to hope, centered not in what they had experienced, but in the One who is their anchor point in each experience. (Psalm 46)

    Many years ago, with his country and city in a heap of devastation and his eyes bloodshot from his tears, the weeping prophet of Israel reminded us how to remember with hope:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26)

    Our hope is not in ourselves, our culture, our strength, our government, our military, our money, or even our own goodness. Our hope is in the LORD — God who preserved Israel, kept his promises to his people, and brought earth its Savior in Jesus. His salvation determines our future, not death or disaster.

    So yes, we remember 9-11. We pledge to never forget those loved ones whose lives have been so brutally ripped apart by this tragedy. But, we remember with hope because we’ve seen better things in ourselves in this tragedy and our hope is now re-focused on what is unshakeable and eternal — the steadfast love of the LORD.

 
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      Title: ""
      Author: Phil Ware
      Publication Date: September 9, 2002


 
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