Another Look by David Faust
9/11 aroused deep emotions. We experienced the common bond that comes from sharing profound national and personal grief.
9/11 shattered our complacency. No longer could we bask in overconfidence or entertain naïve delusions about the consequences of evil. American pride remains intact, but our sense of invulnerability collapsed in a cloud of dust along with the Twin Towers. Life is swift and fragile—”a mist that appears for little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14), but we’re slow to believe it until a shocking event like 9/11 slaps us in the face.
For a season, at least, that infamous day renewed our patriotism. It stirred admiration in our hearts as we learned about heroes whose determination and perseverance, whose brave unselfish acts, will never be forgotten.
And 9/11 made us wrestle with God. It compelled us to face tough questions about faith, war, suffering, senseless violence, and enduring hope.
On 9/12 we woke up to the disorienting realization that our world had been drastically and permanently altered. Here’s what I wrote in THE LOOKOUT a few weeks after that fateful day:
For a few days in September, life stood still. We were glued to our TV sets, watching the nightmarish scene unfold in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Worshipers crowded into churches for prayer. Donors gave money and blood to those in need.
Then things began to return to normal. The NFL played again on Sunday. Trading resumed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. TV networks aired their fall premiers. Schools went back into session. We felt relieved because things were returning to normal.
Yet, somehow we know that things will never be the same again. The terrorist attack rocked not only New York, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania; it shook the world. Max Lucado pointed out, ‘This is a different country. . . . We’re not as self-centered as we were. We’re not as self-reliant as we were. Hands are out. Knees are bent. This is not normal. And I have to ask the question, ‘Do we want to go back to normal?’
Good question. If normal means taking our country for granted instead of thanking God for our blessings, I don’t want to go back to normal.
If normal means joking about our president far more than we pray for him, then I don’t want to go back.
If it means bowing at the altar of prosperity and pleasure instead of finding contentment in our faith, families, and friends, then I’d rather not be normal.
If normal means packed sports stadiums but half-empty churches, billboards along the highway that are crude and suggestive instead of patriotic and inspiring, and people shuffling their feet impatiently and refusing to sing when the National Anthem is played, I don’t want to go back.
If it means dragging ourselves off to church expecting to be bored instead of blessed, and professing to believe in God but acting like he doesn’t exist, I don’t want to go back to normalcy.
If normal means being stingy instead of generous, concerned about ourselves rather than caring about others, and taking life and liberty for granted, then I don’t want to be normal ever again.
Things have been different since September 11, 2001. I hope the “new normal” pushes us to be more biblical in our beliefs, more Christ-like in our behavior, and more kingdom-minded in our perspective. For only then will good truly rise from the ashes of that tragic day.