Very rarely can someone say that they get to be in the presence of survivor of an intense tragedy. I am not referring to surviving cancer or any similar situation, though still tragic. I refer to something far worse. September 11, 2001 changed America forever. The impact of the planes on the World Trade Center shook the nation. As each tower was hit, burned and collapsed the world watched in horror as, we later found out, nearly 3,000 people perished. To survive something so catastrophic is honestly a miracle.
Today, on the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attack on 9/11, I had the opportunity to listen to the testimony of a family friend, who is also among survivors. Mike survived something that should have killed him. He was in the South Tower on the 97th floor. He should be dead. He should be just a memory and a name engraved on a memorial wall. Yet today, he is alive. I cannot help but smile and have tears of joy because of the grace of God on his life. As he shared his testimony, he shared two notes that his children wrote. His daughter, Sarah- age 11, shared that if he had died on 9/11 she would not have a daddy to play with her, do art with, play soccer with, or make memories with. His son, Christian- age 6, said something that if 9/11 had killed him, then he would not even be alive or have the chance to play ball with his daddy. Mike lost almost every co-worker as well as being immediately unemployed. He almost lost the chance to really be a dad. He almost…but he survived.
The way he so gently explained the horror or 9/11 showed that hope is possible. He did not know if would survive that day or see his family again. But the one thing he was certain of was that he loved God more than anything and He would take care of him. Today, 10 years later, Mike stands tall because he is alive, yet his spirit humbled by God. Survivor’s guilt can continue to attack him, making him feel sorry about surviving meanwhile all of his friends perishing. Yet by the power of Christ’s love and hope, Mike knows with full faith that there is a purpose for his surviving. This is where I believe it to be true that God will never leave us or forsake us. In the times that we do not understand or cannot handle, God is right there holding us.
I am so humbled and honored to have been able to relive that day with Mike as he shared his survival. I am humbled by God’s deep love and stand firm on this: hope in Christ, regardless of what darkness we face, is the only true thing to get us through.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.