Friday, September 10, 2010

Tragedy Can Transform

On September 11, 2001, I awoke anxious and somber. Before nightfall, I would tackle a difficult personal matter, and the thought made me weak.

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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  1. Very touching, Gayle. I think all of us will always remember what we were doing that day. You are so right,God can turn tragedy into triumph.


  2. May we never forget to pray for our country... may we never forget that dreadful day in history.

  3. Oh Gayle Sweetie...
    Such a beautiful write. I love it. You searched your sould and heart and came up with just the right words to share with us today.

    I thank you so much. So touching, and you know this tragedy brought a lot of miracles to many lives. God has a purpose for everything, we just need to trust and not ask "Why". May we never forget sweet friend. Country hugs and so much love, Sherry

  4. I remember the passion people had for the Lord during this time. I remember seeing the new faces at church.I remember hearing prayers that made me cry because they were full of passion,and desire for the Lord. It's sad to me that it was all short coming. Did they stay, NO do they still have those prayers with so much passion, maybe not.I pray that people will have a long term passion for the Lord without the tragedy.My prayers go to all the families who lost loved ones on during this horrible tragedy.
    God Bless,

  5. Absolutely wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing. Yes, God is always in the midst. I think often, 'why did you allow that to happen?'. I know I'll never have the answer. But what I do know is the stories of how many people DIDN'T die that many were spared. And I have the assurance that for those who did, God is with those left behind. We must all continue to pray for our country. We open our arms to welcome so many and offer a better way of life. Yet, Satan ensures that there are those who will hate us anyway. All we can do is live our faith out lous & rely on our God!

  6. Gayle, your post says it was a horrible reminder of our need of many after ran to churches seeking help and comfort. I think somewhere inside all of us...we do know we need Him and that there's something greater than ourselves that's important.

  7. I think its interesting that you pulled out the scripture card that you did. You thought it had meaning for your personal problems... but God knew you'd need it for other reasons.
    Thank you for sharing your memories of that day and what you took from it. We will never forget 9-11. Its been 9 years and the tears are still falling.

  8. This is wonderful post and beautiful reminder of God's love for His creation....We all know what we were doing that is the same for those of us who remember when JFK was asassinated. It rocked our world..

  9. Tragedy is humbling. Thank you for this personal glimpse into how God can use it to transform us. Blessings to you!

  10. It is amazing how people were praying and displaying American flags. The country came together as it had not done in many years, probably since Pearl Harbor. What a shame that attitude faded away so quickly. Too soon the country was divided again and people started pointing fingers and placing blame for everything.
    Thank you for sharing your heart about how you reacted that day.

  11. What a beautiful post, Gayle...and it's a day I think we will never forget...I only wish that some of the lessons learned would remain in everyone's hearts...

  12. Gayle, you put into words what all of us experienced on that day. We all had our own stage setting, where we were, what we were doing, etc. But the emotions and reactions are oh so familiar. Thank you for sharing and God bless you. -Bobbi

  13. I love the word "transformation" that you used. It brought back memories of the capital and the unity that followed for awhile, and a God fearing president that was not ashamed to pray for our nation. Have a great Sunday.

  14. Gayle, you managed to write so accurately the way that I felt that day, and the way that I still feel. I was blessed beyond measure to be in a bible study at the exact moment that "it" was happening. I know the scripture we were discussing when we got the call because I marked it in my book. What I think when I think about that morning is that I want to be deep in Him ALWAYS so that I can ALWAYS handle the horrific as well as I did that day.

    Really... if you knew me, you would have been amazed at my sense of "horrified calm".

    Anyway, you have made me think on Monday what I was thinking on Saturday. Thanks for giving me one of your thoughtful posts to start my week.