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Remembering 9/11… "It Seems Like It Was Just Yesterday"

"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

2 Peter 3:8

Today September 11 marks the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, and like many of you I too choose to remember those who lost loved ones on that fateful day or as a result of the attacks. Even today, 17 years later, many of the first responders are suffering from terminal illnesses they contracted at ground zero. Whenever I am confronted with human suffering I find myself opening my bible to the book of Job. It seems in studying through the book of Job I come to understand better the problem of pain and grief associate with death, suffering and grief and the difficulty we have to simply just "move on" as some suggest we do when dealing with the death and loss. We must not forget that human beings were not created to comprehend death as we were hard wired by God for life eternal. Death only came into the picture because of the fall of man.

After watching stories of survivors from 9/11 and listening to family members and friends share about their loved ones whom they lost that day I was not surprised when I heard many of the testimonies use the exact same phrase to describe how fast 17 years goes by. Seventeen years might be a long time and yet for many 9/11 families little progress has been made in healing the deep emotional tears of the soul that came with losing someone you love so suddenly, without any time to gain a sense of stability before the crushing news is received that they are gone.

The older I get the more I grasp how amazing the human mind is in its ability to both protect and preserve moments, "frozen in time" as it were with such intimate detail when a person receives the news that their loved ones has been killed suddenly. It's like time stops and yet, even amidst the shock and the chaos, our feelings experience a sort of numbness when tragedy strikes the heart and soul, and the mind seems to work almost independently preserving memories into a special album in the heart I like to call, "It seems like it was just yesterday".

Many of those who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11 and who were willing to share their grief with the world would say one after another during their interview with reporters, "It seems like it was just yesterday" as they recalled the pain and shock that the terrorist attacks brought upon their lives. The events of the day and those that followed are just as real today, seventeen years later as if it happened just yesterday. Like most who watched these made for television specials my heart just ached as I listened to the numerous documentaries that have been created to mark the anniversary of 9/11 each year.

As difficult as it can be to share in others grief its important that we do (Its biblical. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4) as each of us at some point in life will be faced with the loss of a loved one, some injury or pain or disease that will alter the course of the life we had hoped for, the one we had planned. What makes 9/11 so unique is how many people suffered the same exact loss at the same moment in time. That only magnified the pain as America stood in horror as the events unfolded right before our eyes making that sense of hopelessness all the more difficult to process. Because so many in our country witnessed the events live on television the scope of the tragedy became national. We suffered a national tragedy together. No two people suffer alike, but all of us have suffered because of the events of 9/11. No one should ever have to suffer alone. And the good news of the gospel is, because of Jesus not one of us needs to.

As I prayed for those families touched by this tragedy the Lord spoke something so clearly to my heart as to why so many used the same exact statement to describe their feelings on the anniversary of 9/11 when they said, "it seems like it was just yesterday". As I thought about it more I realized It wasn't just the pain of the loss that made the day seem still so fresh in these peoples minds. No, on the contrary, something greater than the pain was preserving their memories. It was their love for the one that they had lost that made it seem like it was just yesterday to them. That's right, love.

Love is the reason it seems like just like yesterday, because love remembers. Love has this uncanny ability to take a snap shot with the heart and soul and permanently capture it so that we can recall it on a moments notice. Its why the victims of 9/11 could so easily and vividly recall the events surrounding the fateful day even though with the memory comes tremendous pain. Love is passionate and like it or not passion involves pain. It's why C.S. Lewis penned the words, "Why love if it hurts so much." Yes, loved one, true love involves pain and as well, true love chooses to remember.

In making the point in my own heart the Lord quickened to my mind the story of Jacob and Rachel in the book of Genesis. Remember that Jacob loved Rachel and as the bible says the 7 years he served to earn her hand in marriage (which turned out to be 14 years) seemed like, "just a few days" or you might say, "like it was just yesterday" to him because of Jacob's love for Rachel. Love is so much more than a feeling, for it is love that sustains us when nothing else will and its love that preserves the memories of our lives like no scrap book can. Love allows the heart to take pictures to preserve memories beyond space and time and is why someone can say 17 years later or even more, its seems like it was just yesterday. Think about two old friends who have not seen each other in years. How easy it is for them to catch up and how the memories of days gone by come flooding right back in leaving both to proclaim "it seems like it was just yesterday". Yes, beloved of God, love remembers and its love that fills the gap of space and time. Love really is eternal.

Imagine heaven for a moment today and how it's going to be one day when we (who have placed our hope in Jesus Christ) are all gathered together before the Lord forever. No clocks, no calendars, nothing pressing us, never again needing to say, "goodbye". As we listen and we share with one another and all the saints gathered there I can just imagine the thought that will fill our minds as we laugh recalling only the happy times of our lives, "it seems like it was just yesterday". Oh, the power of love and its ability to not only remember and preserve but to empower us forward in hope. It was Alexander Pope in his, "An Essay on Man" who wrote the words, "Hope Springs Eternal" and its true but even more so, "Love Springs Eternal" because love never forgets because love never fails! Not in this life nor in the life to come.

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13:13


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