MELISSA, Texas (BP) — The spirit, teamwork and positive attitudes that we celebrated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are still vital to our sense of community in 2011.
My desire that God would give His grace and love to the hurting and the hopeless have not wavered. The faith that brought us through 9/11 can bring us through divorces, bankruptcies and illnesses today. When all else seems to fail, our God stands beside us and offers His hand of forgiveness and devotion. When no one will listen to us, our Savior is standing by.
Let’s renew our commitment to prayer — the prayer that comforted us immediately after tragedy and the prayer that guides us even now.
To honor those whose lives were cut short on 9/11 and to remind us as citizens how we felt then and how we should feel today, I’d like to share some thoughts I originally wrote on Sept. 18, 2001.
Americans are responding to last week’s tragedy with a renewed spiritual appetite.
When tragedy strikes, the most fundamental human questions arise: “Why did this happen?” and “Why could God allow all of those people to die?”
Sometimes, our only answers are: “I am not sure,” “Let’s just hold on” and “Remember, our heavenly Father loves us.” Those answers may seem incomplete, but they are built on the foundation of true faith.
True faith is demonstrated by those who trust even when they don’t understand.
True faith is expressed when people cry out to God for answers and then trust Him even when the answers don’t come as quickly as we would like.
True faith is believing what the writer of Hebrews wrote: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I know that many of you attended prayer services last week at your places of worship; we held one at ours. People offered prayers of thanks, prayers of sorrow, prayers of desperation, prayers of mourning and prayers of repentance.
Near our church, people were allowed to write their prayers. I had the privilege of reading some of them and observing the great faith displayed by my neighbors. Those prayers, prayed to God in a quiet room in a private moment, will strengthen your faith. Those prayers, spoken not to gain public attention but to work through tragic fears, will remind us that God reigns. Those prayers — written in English, Spanish and even Arabic — remind us that prayer comforts and heals.
Let me share a few of them.
One woman wrote, “Lord, we don’t have answers today, but we know that You are in control. Please keep us mindful of Your grace and protection. May we always look to You for answers and strength.”
A humble gentleman prayed, “Dear God, thank You for my sister’s illness today that kept her from her job as a flight attendant. I pray for all those who lost loved ones today. I pray for our president and all those making decisions for our country. Keep us steadfast in our faith, looking to You for strength. Amen.”
An insightful child wrote, “Heavenly Father, please be with those who are suffering so. Please be with those who are trying to clean the rubble and find bodies. Please, Lord, be with us as a nation wounded. With Your help, Lord, we will get through this.”
To the authors of those prayers: Please forgive us for entering your private sanctuary, but thank you for writing them. Your faith is too strong and your words are too eloquent not to be shared with others. Your prayers and your trust in God help us heal.
To the readers of the prayers: Take those words of hope and add them to your own. The world is full of evil people, but it is ruled by a sovereign God. Your reaction to this tragedy can either pull you toward Him or push you away. My prayer is that you will be drawn to a greater faith than ever before.
God bless America.
Trey Graham is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Melissa, Texas (www.firstmelissa.com). Graham (at email@example.com) is the author of “Lessons for the Journey” and “Light for the Journey.”