The eleventh of September is a day marked with great sorrow. It was on this day that al-Qaeda terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. It’s a day to remember those who died and those who lost loved ones. It’s a sobering reminder that we live in a fallen world where no one is guaranteed safety.
But how many Americans actually understand that safety isn’t guaranteed? How many of us really get that life is precious and could be gone in the blink of an eye? How many of us take full advantage of the moments we have with those we love? Do you?
Just because you lock your doors and wear a seat-belt does not mean you are totally safe. Just because you pick your friends carefully and try to be kind and thick-skinned doesn’t mean you won’t ever get hurt. You can’t possibly think of, let alone prevent, every possible danger or risk that could ever touch you.
So often we think that if we just work hard enough, we can protect ourselves and those we love from danger. We think that we can insulate ourselves from pain. But the thing is, we can’t. We don’t have control over our circumstances–only God does.
Those who went to work at the World Trade Center on that fateful morning likely never considered that it would be their last. Their loved ones didn’t know, as they hurriedly helped them out the door, that those brief comments would be their last words to them. If they had known, they wouldn’t have left issues tense or unresolved. They would have made sure they said just how much they loved each other.
But tragedy hardly ever announces its advance ahead of time. It sneaks up on us unawares. No one is exempt from the pain that comes with life in a broken world, and even though we try to ignore it, we can’t escape it. Tragedy can still strike, even when you have tried your very best to prevent it. But we can’t let our fear rule us. While we can, and should, exercise discernment to foresee dangers and avoid them, ultimately we have to trust our well-being to God.
Our founding fathers understood this. They faced many terrible dangers, both from people and circumstances, yet did not let those things stop them from following God. Following God was more important to them than being safe. They realized that safety is an illusion, and that chasing it would leave them incapacitated in fear.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” -Benjamin Franklin
It’s easy to look at a tragedy like 9/11 and want to run and hide, shut our eyes and sing happy songs to ourselves. But when we face the ugliness, pain and darkness of such an event head on, the beauty and goodness of life becomes that much more precious to us. When we remember just how short life is, that we aren’t guaranteed anything, we learn to value every moment we have.
We can’t stop bad things from happening to us, or to those we love. We don’t have control of our circumstances. But what we do have control over is ourselves. We can choose how we will respond when bad things happen, and how we will use every moment in light of that. Safety is not guaranteed to any of us, so let’s love while we have the chance. Once it’s gone, that’s it. Now is the time to act.
Every breath is a gift. Every moment with those we love is precious. Don’t let the fear of what could happen stop you from living and loving while you have the chance. Now, before it’s too late, let us take every opportunity we have to love those around us, be they family, friends, or strangers like God does, and to fight for truth and goodness with all our being.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. -1 John 4:18a
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” -J. R. R Tolkien