15 years ago, I was sitting in my 8 o’clock freshman Bible class when we were released early over the news that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Buildings. I remember going back to my dorm room to watch the second plane hit and the buildings fall. Over the next several days, I would come to understand the pain and loss suffered by so many who knew people in those towers. The questions. The outpouring of anger and grief. I remember wondering if this was the end to the attacks, or if more would come. And I also remember reassuring myself that I was living in the middle of the country, in Arkansas, far away from the big cities and targets I thought might be next.
Throughout the next 15 years, I watched “safe” places become no longer safe. Elementary schools. Movie theaters. Office buildings. Places that had no connection to the “big targets” that terrorists were supposed to attack. My world no longer felt safe, the façade was lifting, revealing the reality of a broken world.
Even within my own life, things that aren’t supposed to happen began happening. I experienced a miscarriage. I lost two daughters to sudden fetal death. But I had done all of the right things. I wondered if I was being punished. I began to go back over my life, recalculating every step, trying to find the reason for the pain and hurt. And the only reason that came through was that we live in an unfair, broken world. And yes, part of that brokenness was me.
The brokenness in me was the prideful assumption that if I do things the “right” way that I will be guaranteed a “right” life. But this is not so. No matter how much we try to live in the right places and surround ourselves with the securities of this world, there is no guarantee that we will live in a safe environment. No matter how careful we are to eat right and exercise, there is no guarantee that our bodies will stay free from illness or pain. No matter how much we educate ourselves and work hard, there is no guarantee that we will have financial security.
But we do have one guarantee. In the face of loss and fear and the unknown, we are guaranteed that we will not go through it alone. God sent His son, His beloved, only son, into this world of brokenness to spread the truth of hope, and the guarantee of salvation. We are called to believe in Him and follow Him and obey HIM, and He will show us the true peace above the waves. He will show us glimpses of the world as it was meant to be, and will be again one day, not through our own flawed views of perfection, but through HIS definition of true wholeness.
15 years ago, so many people lost their lives on airplanes and in buildings. But I know that they were not alone. And we are not alone, wherever this life and this world are headed, I do not despair. I am not forgotten. Neither are you. He sees us, He mourns with us, and He holds us in his arms. Just as He did 15 years ago, and just as He does today.