With all the 9/11 media coverage this past week, it's been hard not to reflect on that day's events and how they intersected with my own life.
Ten years ago I was crashing for the night at a former roommate's apartment. It was a week before my senior year of college was to start and an InterVarsity weekend leadership retreat was scheduled to begin later that afternoon. I had just returned from a summer urban project in L.A. and was excited for what the year would hold.
I don't remember the exact details of how I learned about the event, but I do remember a neighbor came over and told us to turn on the TV. We watched reruns of the footage (I think we found out about an hour after it happened) and tried to understand what it all meant.
I remember how uncertain everything felt in that moment: What does this all mean? Is it safe? Do I know anyone in NY? Is family ok? Is the leadership retreat canceled? Where is God? Are we at war? Is there more coming?
We did have the leadership retreat later that day but I have to confess I don't remember much of it and was probably fairly distracted for most of it. It's hard to focus on the vision that God might have for the ministry at UCSB that year when you're grappling with what in the world God is doing and thinking with your country.
Out of all the media coverage this week, the most powerful documentary I stumbled upon was a Front Line documentary called Faith And Doubt at Ground Zero. It basically looks at spiritual elements surrounding that day and to sum it up in one word, it's haunting. Haunting both in the questions it leaves unanswered, but in the many testimonies of faith: faith and hope in a God when everything around you doesn't make sense.
I think questioning my belief in God will be the lasting legacy of 9/11 in my own life. To say I believe in a loving, just, and righteous God after such an event takes a lot more conviction for me now than it did prior to that day. If anything 9/11 forced me to reconsider if I really believe such verses as Job 19:25-17 or James 1:2-8.
I will never fully understand where God is in events like 9/11 or any of the hundreds of other acts of terror that happen during a single year in our world, but I do believe God is present even in such events and that he is not only mourning right along with us but at work in ways that we do not see or comprehend.