Where were you? I remember so clearly. I had just walked into Starbucks with a friend when a second friend came in wild-eyed, telling us a plane had just struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
As we were ordering our coffee, the second plane struck. Then, just a short while later, we were told that WE were under attack where I live in Washington, D.C.
I can recall running to my car, an old Ford Bronco with no roof, wishing I had something with a bit more coverage — the top had been permanently removed.
I had a great view of the sky. I drove to get my kids from school. People were coming out onto the street to see the smoke from the Pentagon. We made it safely back to our house, but on that day — 3,000 others did not.
On this 16th anniversary, there are kids in high school who were not born until after the day the world was forever changed. My 10-year-old daughter cannot figure out why we want to remember such a horrible day.
With all of the unrest in the world, why bring to mind more? Because things like this remind us to pray:
1.) We can pray for the souls of the dead, those lost on 9/11, remembering their lives and the lives of those they loved.
2.) We can pray for peace in our world, now, today, for everyone.
3.) We can pray for peace in our city, neighborhoods and schools.
4.) We can pray for peace in the hearts of all of those touched by violence and hate of any kind.
5.) We can pray for peace in the lives of those who cause violence and hate, that their lives will be touched and transformed by love.
6.) We can pray for peace for ourselves, that our anxious and worried hearts will be calmed by the God of love who watches over all.
The noted Catholic author Fr. Jacque Philippe had this to say about peace, worries and anxiety in his book “Interior Freedom”:
“One of the wisest sayings in the Gospel is ‘Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.’ (Matthew 6:34) … We are obliged to plan for the future and take thought for tomorrow. But we should do it without worrying, without the care that gnaws at the heart but doesn’t solve anything — and often prevents us from putting our hearts into what we have to do here and now. Hearts anxious about tomorrow can’t be open to the grace of the present moment.”
He continued, “Like manna that fed the Hebrew people in the desert, grace can’t be stockpiled. We can’t build up reserves of grace, but only receive it moment by moment, as part of the ‘daily bread’ we pray for in the Our Father. Projecting our fears into the future cuts us off from reality and prevents us from dealing with the present situation as we should. It saps our best energies.”
Fear of suffering, as we’ve seen, causes more pain than suffering does. We need to live accordingly.
He goes on to quote Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who had a religious awakening and was killed in 1943 after being deported to Auschwitz.
“‘We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies. We make mental provisions for the days to come and everything turns out differently, quite differently. Sufficient unto the day. The things that have to be done must be done, and then for the rest we must not allow ourselves to become infested with thousands of petty fears and worries, so many motions of no confidence in God. Everything will turn out all right … Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.’”
May you find peace in your heart, in spite of all circumstances, through knowing Jesus Christ. And then, may you share this peace that surpasses all understanding with our very troubled world.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:2)7
I confess, I can be afraid. I don’t understand all that is happening in the world nor do I understand why you allowed 9/11 to take place, or so many other tragedies. But Jesus, I choose to trust in You. I know that in your Holy Word You say that, somehow, You will make good come from evil. We see that very clearly on the cross. So even if I do not see the outcome of the good with my own eyes, I will see it with eyes of faith and, once again, choose to say, “Jesus I trust in You.” Please dear Lord, bring peace to my troubled heart and all those whom I love. Help me “reclaim large areas of peace” in my life and reflect it to the world by trusting in You. And when my life is over — short or long — when you call my name to be read with the names of all of those who have ever died, I pray, that with my last breath, I can once again keep choosing to say, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Melissa Overmyer is founder of Something Greater Ministries in Washington, D.C., and has taught the Bible for over 30 years. This article was originally published in September of 2016.
(photo credit, homepage image: TheMachineStops, Flickr; photo credit, article image: 9/11 Photos, Flickr)