The God of all Hope
—In Remembrance of Those Who Lost Their Lives on 911
May we never forget them …
As an author, I make sense of my life—its trials and triumphs, its conundrums and convictions—by writing about them. Writing helps clarify my thoughts and allows cathartic healing when wounds are deep. Yet, somehow the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001 defied my feeble attempts to explain, examine, or exorcize them. Countless times I tried to journal my emotions, but I was at a complete loss, overcome by the evil of man. While I am a committed Christian and believe with all my heart in a loving, just God, it was difficult to understand why He had allowed such atrocities and the destruction of so many innocent lives.
As I often do when self-expression comes haltingly in prose, I began writing a poem. By permitting the music of language to pulse through my heart, a cataract of emotions spilled forth with a reeling rhythm all its own. My feelings crashed like cymbals onto the page in “O Say, Can You See America?”
As I grieved over the strident discord of 911's mass mutilation—over evil’s blaring blast—the soft melody of hope began to sound, then crescendo like a clarion call: Never, never, never abandon hope! Hope never dies. It is no gossamer specter, but a mighty victor that conquers despair.
Despite the malevolence of a wicked few, countless courageous men and women rose to unimagined heights of bravery. Hope! For love of America and total strangers, heros plunged headlong into the towering infernos. Hope! Priests, clergymen, firefighters, medics, Red Cross and Salvation Army workers, and nameless, numberless volunteers trudged Ground Zero’s molten miles, in search of the dead and dying to offer last rights, medical aid, physical labor, food, clothing, Scripture tracts, prayers, encouragement, comfort . . . Hope! Americans gave blood and donated money to the injured and orphans.Hope! Many nations, some formerly our worst enemies, rallied as allies in the fight against terrorism, in the quest for peace. Hope! People of all persuasions, ages, races, and religions—even agnostics and atheists—gathered in churches, synagogues, stadiums, schools, and along the streets bowing their heads and lifting their hearts to God Almighty. Hope!
Hope never dies because God, Himself—the one, true, eternal God—is the God of hope (Romans 15:13). He promises: “I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).” God makes this promise because He is love (I John 4:16), and because He is good (Psalm 34:8; 119:68).
Yet He gives man free choice which includes the choice to sin. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).” The travesty that occurred on September 11th 2001 was a not a result of God’s doing, but of man’s sin—sin so grotesque that it literally spawned thousands and thousands of deaths. Yet did God care that people died? Did He feel pain?
I pored over Scripture for answers: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish . . . (II Peter 3:9)” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15).” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” He gave His Son in death—He nailed Jesus to a cross. Imagine God’s agony and grief! Yet astoundingly “it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer (vs. 10)”—to suffer the most excruciating death possible because He loved you and me so much. Jesus, God Himself, was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. . . . Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:3,4).”
O yes, God cared. O yes, He grieved. O yes, Jesus suffered, bled, and died. Despite the horrors and tragedies we experience, we cannot escape the reality of the Cross—that Jesus became man and willingly suffered for us when He did not have to! God’s loss was man’s gain. Because Jesus chose to suffer and die, and because He rose again, we who receive Him have the hope of eternal life. Yet God will punish eternally those terrorists who did not repent and receive Christ.
I saw a television report shortly after the attacks, which graphically depicted Ground Zero. Amazingly, visible among the towers’ smoldering skeletal remains were two sturdy steel beams intersecting like a cross. Even newscasters did not miss its significance: They proclaimed it a sign of hope—a sign from God amid such destruction. God lost His Son on the Cross, so we could gain Heaven and eternal life. We will all die someday, whether of natural or disastrous causes. The question is: On what foundation do we base our eternal future? “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. . . . On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
Please come back tomorrow to read my poem called “O Say, Can You See America?” It depicts the horrors and hope of 911. May we never forget what happened, and may we ever honor the memory of those who lost their lives. They did not die in vain.
(Copyright 2013. Lynn D. Morrissey. All Rights Reserved.)
Lynn D. Morrissey, is a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF), founder of Heartsight Journaling, a ministry for reflective journal-writing, author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, an AWSA and CLASS speaker, and professional soloist. She and her beloved husband, Michael, have been married since 1975 and have a college-age daughter, Sheridan. They live in St. Louis, Missouri.
You may contact Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Linking up with Multitudes on Monday