I originally published this article on September 10, 2010. I am feeling uneasy today—the much-publicized 10th anniversary—since I live in the Washington, D.C. area and am travelling. Please say a prayer for me and others who are getting on airplanes today and keep us in your thoughts.
On the other hand, my first thought when I woke up today was, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It struck me as odd, but has me pondering. It also reminded me that God is ever-present and has given me much to be grateful for, even in difficult times. If you are struggling today, I hope that you can feel the comfort of His presence.
On 9/11/2001 I was at stay-at-home mom, enjoying time off between jobs. I dropped my kids off at school, and then went to Wal-Mart. Among other things on my list was a new Bible, so I could make good on my “promise” to be better about reading the Scriptures. I settled on the Women’s Devotional Bible, which includes daily essays paired with Scripture readings.
On my way home, I listened to the radio, the Jack Diamond Morning Show on Mix 107.3 FM. At some point, Jack dropped the usual programming and started talking about some reports he was hearing about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City. Now, I love the Jack Diamond Morning Show, and I like Jack, but my first reaction was that he was jumping the gun, overblowing some minor incident, making a big deal out of nothing. Before I made it home, he had announced reports about a plane crashing into the Pentagon! Now that couldn’t be. He must be exaggerating, spreading wild rumors. But, I was getting that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I rushed into the house, turned on the TV (sorry, Jack!) and saw the video–a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings, actually two planes, and a plane had crashed into the Pentagon–I know people that work at the Pentagon–what was happenning?
I watched the news for a while, but then I couldn’t take it anymore. I got out my Bible, and started looking for comforting words. I don’t remember what led me to it, but I ended up at Psalm 37 (not a Psalm I’d made particular note of before):
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
* * * * *
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret–it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
* * * * *
The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.
* * * * *
I found comfort in these words. I did not have to worry about the “evil men” who seemed to be “succeed[ing] in their ways.” God would take care of me–and take care of them.
I went back to the news. I was glued to it for the rest of the day. I called my friends who worked at the Pentagon and learned that they were safe. I heard from my husband who was safe, but unable to leave work. I decided to leave my kids at school, where I knew they were safe. Never before had I really thought about being “safe,” but that was my main concern that day.
The rest of my time off from work wasn’t the same. The world had changed. Roads that we used to drive on every day were closed because they ran through a military base. The Coast Guard installation where my daughter used to play soccer, that was along my morning running route, became closed to the public and more visibly guarded by armed guards. The airplanes that use to fly overhead were silent for days and weeks on end, while National Airport was closed. Above all, my sense of safety was shaken, I was worried–we all were worried–that there would be another attack.
Nine years later, there have been other terrorists attacks, but nothing so devastating. But now, I find myself drawn to Psalm 37 for another reason. There is a “pastor” in Florida who is threating to burn the Koran because . . . well, I’m not exactly sure why, and I don’t want to find out. He has gotten far more media attention than he deserves, so I don’t want to Google him to add to his “popularity.”
What bothers me is that he has entangled his message of hate with Christianity. Burning the Koran, inciting violence, spreading hatred has nothing to do with with being a Christian, with following the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. The only time that Jesus was “violent” was in his own temple, when he was disgusted by the way it had been turned into a marketplace. (John 2: 13-16). When Jesus himself was threatened, he ordered his disciples to put away their swords. (Matthew 26:52). What could Jesus have to do with burning the Koran?
When my blood is boiling at the blasphemy of this pastor, I turn to the words of Psalm 37. I try not to fret about his evil schemes. I try to trust that he will be cut off–that his plans will fail. I hope that the Lord is laughing at him, because I am angered and saddened.