By Mark A. Taylor
What will you do tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11?
If you’re like me, your answer may be, “Nothing.”
Maybe this is because we’ve seen so much senseless tragedy since then: moviegoers gunned down in a theater, and schoolchildren murdered in their classrooms. And many are still feeling repercussions from the Boston Marathon bombing April 15.
This week we’re assaulted on every side with debate about whether to hurl missiles at a ruthless regime that has protected power by unleashing chaos and death on its own citizens. No matter how America responds, the outcome will be the same: more ruin and more millions spent to damage and destroy.
The Barna Research Group last week released results of a survey to analyze the “emotional and spiritual aftermath” of 9/11 and the Boston bombing. Unsurprisingly, Christians have a more hopeful response than the population at large. Two-thirds of the “born again Christians” surveyed agreed, “My faith helps me understand why such things happen” while only 45 percent of all American adults made that claim. Almost all (89 percent) of born again Christians agreed, “My faith gives me comfort when such things happen,” as compared with 64 percent of all adults.
Perhaps on this 9/11 anniversary we can decide how to share that comfort. Perhaps we can ask ourselves how that hope directs us (and, by the way, whether Christians are more likely to express faith to a survey-taker than to demonstrate it in everyday life).
If nothing else, a reflection on 9/11 could prompt us to pray: for our neighbors and friends who have no eternal confidence, for a president challenged to lead in a divided and contentious political landscape, for Syria and its neighbors whose “normal” too often includes bombs and bloodshed.
One text in my preacher’s sermon Sunday was Revelation 22:2. It describes the New Jerusalem’s tree of life, whose leaves “are for the healing of the nations.” This healing will not be complete until that city is revealed, but until then, each of us can do our part. We can nurture our relationship with God, the only sure source of a peace that seems impossible (Philippians 4:7). And we can find ways to join him in the great mission of reconciling our wounded, wandering world back to him.
He is the only One who offers hope that can’t be blown away by a terrorist’s threat.