Dear God, I’m praying this on a significant day. It marks the 20-year anniversary of the attacks al-Qaida did on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and it also marks the one-year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing.
One of my first thoughts today was to look back to one year ago and remember everything you did for us that day. In retrospect, it was truly remarkable. Through a series of events that frustrated me at the time, I happened to walk in on my wife within two minutes of her having found her dad on the floor. We didn’t know it at that moment, but he had been gone for several hours at that point. She had last seen him the day before. Going back further, it’s a remarkable miracle that he was even living next door to us when he died. There is so much to remember of what you have done for us. My wife was talking this morning about being torn that, on the one hand, he died alone and she wishes she could have been there with him, but, on the other hand, his death was apparently quick and didn’t involve the trauma of EMTs resuscitating him, Emergency Rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehab facilities (especially in a time of COVID when she wouldn’t have been able to care for him like she wanted. He got a quick, peaceful and pretty dignified death, all things considered. I would say that any of us, if given the option, would opt in for something similar. So you were really good to all of us a year ago, and although the loss still hurts, which it should, there are some real elements to it that are worth of us worshipping you for your goodness.
Then there is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I asked my wife this morning if she finds it peculiar that, as a society, we tend to commemorate the days of defeat. Pearl Harbor. Remember the Alamo. 9/11. I’d be curious to know if the French commemorate the day the Germans rolled in back in 1939. Do the Germans remember D-Day or the day they surrendered to the allies? Is it peculiar that we, as a nation, gravitate towards these days of loss and pain? As I’ve thought about it since my conversation with my wife this morning, I’ve wondered if there is something about the pain that unites us, and, at least for a moment, we are drawn to setting aside all of our differences and having something that we can equally share? I still remember all of Congress holding hands on the Capitol steps in 2001 and singing “God Bless America.”
The truth is, we learn so much more about ourselves and others–we grow so much more–in defeat than in victory. Yes, we Texans celebrate winning our independence from Mexico, but we remember more about the Alamo than we remember about San Jacinto. We remember the date of Pearl Harbor more than we remember the dates of D-Day, VE-Day, or VJ-Day. And we will remember 9/11 more than the day the Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. Yeah, I wonder how peculiar this is to our culture, or if others do this too.
Father, I always want to be careful to find your fingerprints on the tragedies, because you, my Shepherd, are always there. I can look back to times of great distress in my life and see the little things you did. The little provisions. The daily bread. No, they don’t always turn out the way my human mind thinks they should, but you are still there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. Truly, my cup is overflowing. Thank you.
In Jesus’s name I pray,