It’s been 13 years since the events of September 11, 2001 changed our world in profound ways. With each passing year our memory of that morning fades. Nearly half a generation has been born since the attack in New York and it seems that each day we are confronted with new tragedies to replace the old (the headlines this morning led with the story of the Oscar Pistorius verdict, followed by the President’s speech on ISIS and the NFL’s response to Ray Rice). But it is important that we remember the events that shape who are and even more important that we remember God’s promises for who we will be.
When He taught on the end of times Jesus told us:
“Watch out that no one deceives you… you will hear of wars and rumors of war but see to it that you are not alarmed… many will turn away from their faith and will betray and hate each other… Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…”
Matthew 24: 4, 6, 10 – 14
The challenge for us remains to stand firm to the end, to never let our love grow cold and to hold on to hope.
During the service for a Day of Prayer and Remembrance at the National Cathedral in the days following 9-11 Billy Graham described that hope we proclaim:
There is hope. There's hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His Word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and we're to turn to Him and He will bless us in a new way. But, there is also hope for the future because of God's promises. As a Christian, I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And that's the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. The Cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for He took upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ our sins and our suffering. And from the Cross, God declares, "I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pains that you feel. But I love you."
On this day of remembrance and each day as we face news of conflict in the Ukraine or violence in our streets, schools or homes our hope remains in the love of Jesus Christ. I’ve found the following Scriptures useful to reflect upon that hope and God’s promises:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … 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.
Romans 8: 18, 31, 32, 35 and 37 - 39
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…
Until; that day comes, may we stand firm to the end, to never let our love grow cold and hold on to hope.