This coming Sunday will mark the twenty-first anniversary of the United States being attacked by Muslim extremists working for the terrorist group Al Qaeda. Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a fourth plane crashed into rural Pennsylvania. Almost 3000 American civilians lost their lives on September 11, 2001—a greater number than were killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier.
All of us who are adults can remember exactly where we were when we heard about hijacked planes or what we felt as we watched the Twin Towers fall. It is not an exaggeration to say that the events of 9/11 changed this country and the world. That day probably changed us too.
Connie and I were living in Michigan at the time. As a Regional Director, I worked for the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and got “stuck” in Kansas City. I was also pastoring a small Baptist Church. That Sunday, I preached – as no doubt thousands of pastors did – from Psalm 46, where David declares,
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Stop right now and go back and re-read that Psalm! And this time, don’t rush through it as we often do in our Bible reading! Read it slowly and reflectively. Meditate on its truth. I’m serious – read it again.
So much has happened since 9/11, and they are not good. Our world is a much more dangerous and uncertain place! But one thing has not changed since that terrible day, which is the truth of Psalm 46. God remains our refuge and strength in difficult times!