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Life after 9/11: searching for stability among the shards

By: stephanie long

I was leaving the cafeteria after study hall when the world froze. Mr. Barney, my high school principal, came over the loudspeaker. I’d never heard his voice more measured and serious as he told us that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. 

I dropped my backpack. 

What did he say? 

We watched the news unfold in the gym. When I saw the Pentagon was hit, I ran to the pay phone, shaking, and called my mom to see if my cousin Shelly was OK. 

“Shelly’s OK,” she said.  

On Sept. 11, 2001, the world shifted on its axis and shook us all to our cores. For me, it triggered the start of my struggle with panic attacks.

Searching for Stability in a Shattered World

Amidst our grief, fear, and uncertainty, our nation pulled together striving for stability. Everyone was nicer to each other. We hugged our families tighter. We looked for ways to help. Some went to church. Some joined the military.

We needed to make sense of what happened and try to fit the pieces back together. But we can never go back to our world as it existed on Sept. 10, 2001.

Even though our worlds changed that day, the world didn’t. Evil, sin, and tragedy were already present. Evil entered the world in Genesis 3. Satan deceived Adam and Eve into breaking God’s only rule, bringing sin and death into the world. Everything broke. The next chapter, Genesis 4, records the first murder — Adam and Eve’s son killed his brother.

People do terrible things because we’re all born sinners (Romans 5:12). It was never God’s plan for tragedies like 9/11 to happen. Sin corrupted the world and everything in it. Now chaos abounds. 

Jesus Gives Us Stability 

Until the day Jesus returns and sets everything right, our world will continue to shake. Despite our best efforts to tape the shards back together, we are not any safer. The threats have changed, but the terror is the same.

Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection is the solution to our individual sin, and ultimately will be the solution to all the sin in the world. Because, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21). 

Jesus didn’t just die to restore our future, He died to redeem our present, and promises us an abundant life (John 10:10). But that doesn’t mean He puts us in a bubble and keeps us from tragedy. Having a relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean we’re safe from a terror attack.     

Building a Future on Stable Ground

Then how do we have an abundant life? Jesus calls Himself the bread of life and He sustains us, gives us peace, and provides our stability (John 6:35-59). Jesus gives us everything we need to get through anything we face.

Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus instructs us to build our lives on knowing Him and living by His words. And He promises that if we do, when the storms come we will stand (Matthew 7:24-27). 

Jesus’ promise to restore all things in the future gives us hope, and His presence in the present gives us peace and stability.

We will still experience evil, but Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of us, be our comforter, and produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in us (John 14:16, Galatians 5:22-23). Through Jesus’ work on the cross and power of Holy Spirit, we find stability in a shattered world.

The anniversary of 9/11 brings us to solemn reflection. As we look back this year, let’s also look into our hearts and evaluate if our lives are on a stable foundation. Then let’s look ahead with hope to the day when Jesus will wipe sin and evil from Earth.

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