After dropping my daughter off at school, I returned home, retreated to my office and contemplated what lay ahead. As often is the case, when I need comfort or direction, I drew a "promise" from a small box of Scripture cards sitting on my desk.
The selected Scripture soothed my senses: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” The prayer on the reverse side seemed handwritten for my day: “Dear God, give me courage to face the problems that confront me today; thank you for your sustaining strength.”
At roughly 9 o’clock, the telephone rang. It was my older sister in Houston. “The Pentagon has been attacked,” she said. “Turn on the news.”
In disbelief, I ran upstairs, turned on the television and stared in horror at the images before me.
Plumes of black smoke cascaded from the World Trade Center toward a cloudless New York sky. In Washington, the very symbol of our nation’s strength lay in rubble, burning. Three commercial airliners had become weapons of war for wicked men intent on destruction.
Suddenly, my personal problems vanished and my somberness was for another cause.
As I listened to the wail of sirens and the rumble of collapsing buildings, I prayed for my country. I prayed that America would let God transform her during this time of intense grief into a nation who, once again, reverences faith—not just in bad times, but in the good times, too.
By noon, I had heard the word “pray” numerous times. I had heard bystanders praying for family and friends. I had seen crude, handwritten signs saying, “Pray for America,” and “God bless the USA.”
However, the many references to prayer and God didn’t make me feel any better; they made me feel worse.
Yes, I had prayed for America to renew her respect for God, but I hadn’t prayed for this. This was too tangible, too painful and too severe.
What I had in mind was more of a quiet stirring within our hearts, a gentle tap on our collective shoulders, saying, “Wake up, America. Don’t sleep the sleep of death.”
I didn’t want destruction to be the motivator for change. And I knew that the God I serve didn’t want destruction to be the motivator either. He is a God of love, not hate.
He doesn’t ram airplanes through buildings, setting off fiery explosions that abruptly end thousands of innocent lives. He seeks to love, not punish.
And then it hit me: What better time for God to love than now? What better place for him to reach for apathetic souls than standing amidst evil-inspired rubble and ruin?
If anyone could turn heartache into hope, he could. If anyone could turn tears into triumph, he could. If anyone could turn tragedy into a glorious transformation, the God of our fathers could.
While journalist conversed about the tragedy of it all, I covered my face and prayed.
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