Like everyone else in America, I can clearly remember the events that unfolded ten years ago on this day. It was a perfect, beautiful Tuesday morning – the kind of day when it feels exhilerating to be alive and outside. My Pre-kindergarten class was enjoying recess on the playground and the other teachers and I were marveling at the exceptionally beautiful weather. Someone from the office came out and handed us each a note, telling us in light of the events occuring in New York, we should remain calm for our students and be alert for any unusual activity. We were very puzzled, but continued to follow our schedule and take our students to lunch. It was in the cafeteria, I learned of the planes flying into the WTC, and Pentagon. When my morning class went home for the day, I was finally able to turn on the radio in my room. I’m very grateful that I didn’t have access to a television. I was spared much of the trauma most Americans suffered witnessing the actual events as they happened.

Parents began to arrive in masses to pick up their children, and our principal began allowing teachers to leave once their classes were gone. Once I got home, I was able to see the horror that America was grasping to process. At this point, I was trying to wrap my mind around how these entire buildings could have collapsed so easily from planes crashing into them several stories above, killing so many fire fighters, police and rescue workers. I then read the running script at the bottom of the screen and saw church after church announcing meetings that evening, and was relieved to be able to gather with others to do the only thing that we could do…PRAY!

The next few days were filled with continuous coverage on television, and the emerging of information on the people behind the attack. It was difficult to see clips of the cheering and celebrating in the streets in the middle east as they learned of the attacks. Having attended a university with a good number of middle eastern students in the mix, I was already aware of an underlying hostility some had towards America. I remembered a path I walked on campus everyday behind a building with the word “JIHAD!” spray-painted on the sidewalk. I had learned much from the stories of missionaries called to share the gospel in Muslim nations and the persecution they faced on a daily basis. When that word resurfaced in the aftermath of 9/11, I was not the least bit surprised. A few days later, I penned these words as a way to release some of my frustration:

America Will Rise

You who fight in most dastardly ways
will not taste victory as our nation prays.
For you failed to see that by God’s own hand,
our foundation was formed and on this rock we’ll stand.

Though always in our hearts we will grieve the lives lost,
Our nation will be stronger, for she’s paid a dear cost.
From out of the ashes America’s beauty will rise.
For in God do we trust and in Him our hope lies.

Ten years later, I realize that these were the workings by the hands of Muslim extremists, and that the majority of those in the Muslim community live their faith out quietly and in peace. I think at this point it’s important to stop and look at the origin of conflict between the Muslims and those of Jewish faith. Muslims are from the line of Ismael, the son of Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant. Sarah was the wife of Abraham who God had promised to give a son. God was pleased with the faith of Abraham and promised to bless his offspring and make a great nation out of his descendants. Sarah was passed her childbearing years and as time went on decided that the only way to make this happen was through Hagar as a type of surrogate mother to raise her son as her own. Some time after Ishmael was born, Sarah became miraculously pregnant as God had promised. Isaac was born and when Ishmael mocked his half brother, Sarah had Hagar and Ishmael sent away. In the desert, God said to Hagar (and previously to Abraham) that He would also make Ishmael and his descendents into a great nation. Genesis 21:8-20 gives the account. Isaac was the promised son and his descendants were given the law of Moses and the promised land, which is now Israel. The descendants of Ishmael, Isaac’s half brother have struggled ever since against Israel. All of this was a prerequisite of the coming of Jesus Christ, in whom ALL are reconciled with God through the sacrificial atonement on the cross, when one believes and receives in faith.

On this day of 2011, in remembering the attack of 9/11, it’s important to honor and pay tribute to the innocent civilians, firemen, police and rescue workers who died that day, and the military personnel who have sacrificed their lives in the war on terrorism. Keep their loved ones lifted up in prayer, and celebrate the children that have been born, the protection from another such attack, and the freedom we’ve maintained since then.

As hardships continue, war, earthquakes, floods and wildfires may all find comfort in the beauty that awaits to rise out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

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