Each year, as we approach the anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, I always debate with myself on whether or not to write something about that day. I believe it is necessary to remember all of those who gave their lives on that day, and those who gave their lives because of that day, but I also think that we can use days like this for healing.
Last night a friend posted a photo on Facebook of the lights that shine up from the place where the Twin Towers used to stand. Under the photo he wrote, “will never forget… will never forgive…” I responded that we are commanded by Christ to forgive and if we do not forgive then we are no better than those who did this. We are no better because we will be filled with hate, the same hatred that drove those men to fly those planes into the buildings, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Hatred is tremendously destructive and has no place in the lives of a Christian.
Over the last few days, I have been writing about transforming our lives to be more Christ-like. Turning away from hatred is part of that transformation and I suppose it is one of the hardest things that Christ commands us to do. And, I will add, we not only have to forgive, but we have to pray for those who hates us. We have to pray for those who are trying to destroy us, because if we don’t, then we have destroyed ourselves. We destroy ourselves with hatred that turns our heart into stone.
Hatred is easy, and it takes no thought at all, but love, on the other hand, takes an enormous amount of work, and that is the work we are called to. I can still remember that day. It is as clear in my mind as this day is. I remember exactly where I was, and what I felt on that day. I was mad but at the same time I was scared and terribly sad. It’s reasonable to be angry and want to exact justice on those who had done this terrible thing. It is reasonable to want to hate those who took so many innocent lives, but that hatred needs to be turned, and forgiveness needs to start. It is not instantaneous, but it needs to happen or it will destroy us.
As we do with most things in our lives, we turn to Jesus as our example. On the last day of his life, He had been beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers, and He had been abandoned by His closest friends. As He was hanging on the Cross he looked down at those who had just put Him there, and He asked His Father to forgive them for what they had done. This is exactly what we have to do, we have to forgive, but we don’t have to forget, and we should never forget.
As we pause, during this day, to remember those whose lives were lost on that day, take time to ask God to help you to heal the hatred that you might have in your heart, not just for this but for every situation. Pray for those who are trying to take our lives and pray for all of us.