Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? Naturally, I'm sure we all do. Each year I struggle on this day to figure out what I can say or do to honor the memories of all those who lost their lives in such a tragic terrorist attack. Thirteen years later there are nearly 3000 responders that are now fighting Ground Zero-related cancer because of their heroic efforts. Thirteen years later there are still thousands and thousands of people deeply affected by this tragedy in very personal ways. I'm so thankful that I do not have any friends or family that died because of these attacks, but I can only imagine how heartbreaking it still is for those who did.
There's nothing very eloquent I can say on this day to honor the innocent lives that were lost. Nor is there much I can do to help bring peace to those still suffering (though they certainly have my prayers). God alone is the bearer of such healing and peace. However, there is one person whose words about 9/11 I find to be comforting, true, and still relevant thirteen years later...so instead of attempting some clumsy memorial piece about 9/11 I will instead allow him speak to your hearts.
The following words were said by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II the day after the 9/11 attacks:
"Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it."
What happened on this day in 2001 was tragic, to be sure. However, as Christians we know that darkness may sometimes appear to prevail, but it does not have the final say. As we continue to remember and honor the men and women who lost their lives thirteen years ago let us trust in the Lord's mercy, the healing power of prayer and forgiveness, and - instead of wallowing in despair - continue to live our lives with the joyful hope we find in Him.