September 5, 2022

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Where was God when America was attacked on September 11, 2001? I was asked this question repeatedly. My answer was straightforward. Besides holding up the twin towers for 45 minutes and raising up heroes, God was touching the lives of all of us.

Including mine.

I was assigned to the Pentagon the summer of 2001.  In the aftermath of the attacks, I provided pastoral care to the critically burned survivors of the Pentagon attack.

The Friday after the attacks, I was driving home late after my hospital visits ended. Despite my bold declarations that God was present during the attacks, I felt tired, depressed and, frankly, angry with him. I had spent the entire day with my eight most seriously burned patients, and I worried about their survival.

As I drove the Beltway, I asked God why he allowed this atrocity to happen. It was then that I noticed activity on a bridge over the highway. A few college-age men and women had gathered, facing the Pentagon, having draped an American flag over the bridge railing.

As I approached, I could see that they each held candles, and with heads bowed, appeared to be praying. A few days ago, they probably wouldn’t have given the Pentagon a second thought. But tonight, they had gathered to pray for those who had suffered great loss.

As I drove beneath the bridge, I heard the voice of God say clearly: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” 

Clarity came.

Those young people gathered to pray for people they did not know. Although they did not know it, they were also praying for a lone, dismayed chaplain whose faith at that very moment was sagging.

Yes, God was there. I not only heard him. I saw him in action. My faith was lifted and my hope for my mission rekindled.

This 9/11, let our thoughts turn to our heavenly Father who promised he would never leave us or forsake us.  He kept his word. He always does.  

God of Power and healing, I pray for all those who lost a loved on to the tragedies of 9/11.  Comfort their spirits, and encourage my heart to be strong in the face of challenge.  Amen.