Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes (Psalm 112:6-8).”
Monday is rough. It is a good day to be afraid.
You don’t know what the week holds. Plus, you are just coming off the weekend, where rest, relaxation and recreation are the expectation.
It is culture shock pure and simple. Yet, we know what’s coming.
On Sunday night we get a little squirrelly in anticipation of the week ahead. What new challenges will we face.
Then Monday comes, as it has for me this morning. As is usually the case, I am having a difficult time getting going.
This morning it is because I really don’t have anything on the schedule, at least exactly. I have enough to do, and expect a meeting to occur some time about some personal business, but generally I can flex a little in terms of when I do the needed activities.
So hear I sit at 10:41 Monday morning, writing this entry. I am a 10 o’clock scholar, and hopefully I will show up at my office about noon.
Now, Tuesday is a different day. Usually by that time the barnacles from the weekend have been scraped off and we are in the midst of whatever battle we are facing for the week. We are usually too busy to be anxious or afraid on a Tuesday.
Tuesday morning on September 11, 2001 in New York by all accounts was gorgeous to behold. The temperature was mild, the sky blue and the sun bright.
It was one of those days I suppose when the weather brightens your mood. Furthermore, Monday is gone, so hopefully you feel better about things.
By 9 am on this Tuesday morning, any good feelings had gone. They were replaced by emotions like fear and anger.
When the planes hit the World Trade Center, our feelings and our world changed in an instant. We were at war with an unknown and unseen enemy.
Now, ten years after the event, a lot has happened. The enemy has been identified and put on the run.
There have been a lot of courageous acts in that time, many of them occurring on September 11 itself. The bravery of a lot of people has helped a lot of us get through this monumental period in history.
America’s president spoke of the last 10 years and the effects of this courage on Sunday. The headline accompanying the text of this speech read AMERICA DOES NOT GIVE IN TO FEAR.
The Bible tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. Mighty towers crumbled. Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters—they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On September 12, 2001, we awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future.
In the decade since, much has changed for Americans. We’ve known war and recession, passionate debates and political divides. We can never get back the lives we lost on that day, or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.
Yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed. Our character as a nation has not changed. Our faith—in God and each other—that has not changed. Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny—that belief, through test and trials, has only been strengthened.
These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear. The rescue workers who rushed to the scene; the firefighters who charged up the stairs; the passengers who stormed the cockpit—these patriots defined the very nature of courage. Over the years we have also seen a more quiet form of heroism—in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up to save lives every day; the businesses that have rebuilt; the burn victim who has bounced back; the families that press on.
America did not give into fear because it had leadership that helped the country rebound from that terrible day 10 years ago. The Bible also speaks of a man who did not surrender to his own fright or the anxieties of others.
In I Samuel 23 it tells of a time when David was told of a September 11 type event in a city called Keilah. The people were under attack from Israel’s enemy the Philistines.
The first thing David did was ask God if he should fight. After all, he was on the run from the king of Israel, who was trying to kill him and his supporters.
God told him to fight. However, this didn’t set well with David’s men, who told him that they were afraid enough running from the king. Why take on a battle that really belonged to him.
David again did not respond to their fears or his own. He went back to the Lord to add this piece of information and find out what to do.
God once more told David to go to war. Thus, he and his men went and defeated the Philistines.
You would think that Saul, the king of Israel, would be grateful. Instead, he saw the coming out of David into the open as his opportunity to kill him.
David did what he had done before. He went to God to determine if he was in danger.
When David found out from the Lord that he would indeed be turned over to Saul by the people he had just saved, he and his men escaped.
God not only responded to David’s faith in coming to Him for aid when he was afraid, but he sent his beloved friend Jonathan to encourage him and help him “find his strength in God (I Samuel 23:16)”.
David is the role model of how to respond when fear strikes. In summary, even when he himself was afraid and the people around him also showed fear, he repeatedly went to God for instructions about what to do.
David did not get stuck in his fright or that of others, or suffer from the “paralysis of analysis”. He turned his thinking over to God, who had much greater wisdom.
What is more, this story of David tells us how gracious God is when we are afraid. We can go to Him and ask for flesh and blood human beings to give us the encouragement we need to continue to trust God, even when the chips are down.
It’s almost noon on my Monday. The examples of those who showed heroism on and after September 11, and David’s actions at Keilah, when he ran to God instead of ran away, have given me the small spark I need in my spirit.
I am ready to go to work.