Where Were You When 9/11 Happened?
by Veronica Neffinger
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
“Where were you when 9/11 happened?” This is a question that seems to come up in discussions every once in awhile. I think it’s because we all realize that, though we may not have known it at the time, almost all of us now remember vividly what we were doing the moment we found out about the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Eighteen years later, I still have a clear memory of sitting in my fourth grade class. My teacher had a somber look on his face as he told us that school was being let out early and all extra-curricular activities for the day were cancelled. The classroom became abuzz with questions of what happened, to which our teacher replied, “Your parents will tell you.”
I remember being surprisingly angry at my teacher in that moment--if this was such a big deal, why couldn’t he tell us what happened?
I don’t remember the ride home, but the next thing I remember is seeing footage of the plane flying into the Twin Towers. Like many people, that footage has been seared into my mind and I can still see it, even though we were nearly 900 miles away from New York City.
It always leaves me with a sense of awe and wonder at the country’s connectedness as I have met people years after September 11, 2001 and we have talked about where we were and what went through our minds on that day. My husband grew up in New England and his father, as a firefighter, knew colleagues who were called in to Ground Zero. It boggles my mind that someone so far away from me geographically at the time was thinking about the same event at the same time I was.
At the eighteenth anniversary of this tragic day, I think I know why so many of us recall 9/11 so vividly and why it has impacted us so greatly: it’s the power of a shared experience.
And as the after-effects of Hurricane Harvey currently continue to wreak havoc on southeast Texas, I’m reminded that even tragedies and terrible disasters, whether manmade or acts of God, have great power to unite people and to dispel differences.
“That’s why America is so amazing,” my husband often says, “when something like 9/11 happens, people from Los Angeles and people from rural Montana and people from New York City and everywhere else come together.”
That is truly amazing. And truly beautiful.
And I can’t help but think that this also applies to the Christian faith. No matter your faith journey, no matter how you came to find Jesus, no matter how windy your road, as believers, we are all sons and daughters of God and we have a shared experience that is more monumental than anything else. At some point in time we all made the same decision and we are all on the same road, with the same Savior leading us.
There is a lot of tragedy, a lot of suffering, a lot of sin in our world. We see it in obvious ways like the evil that was carried out on September 11, 2001, and we see it in more subtle ways in our own hearts, but we can rejoice because God’s Word tells us that He is greater than all of it. Christ has overcome the world and the sin that weighs it--and us--down.
Intersecting Faith & Life: We can be united as believers in the assurance that, no matter what darkness and trials come, our God “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).