Last week I visited the 911 Memorial at Ground Zero in Manhattan. The memorial is a beautiful tribute to the almost 3,000 men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The towers fell and many died while America and the rest of the world watched.
Visit to the 911 Memorial
Now, ten years later, two massive reflecting pools occupy the spaces where the two towers once stood. Water cascades down the sides of the pools and runs into the seemingly bottomless holes in the centers. The bronze ledges surrounding the pools are engraved with the names of the victims. Each name representing a life lived.
More than 400 swamp white oak trees now grow in the plaza, dotting the landscape with life. But one tree – the “Survivor” tree – stands out from the rest. This Callery pear grew on the original World Trade Center Plaza for three decades. After the attack, workers found the eight foot stump of the damaged tree in the debris. It was taken to a city park and nursed back to health. Now more than 30 feet tall, this tree represents the 911 spirit of survival and resilience.
A strong mix of emotions hit me as I walked the new plaza. Anger, grief, patriotism, and hope each took its turn at the forefront of my feelings. So much loss. So many left to mourn. Countless families torn apart. Yet even as our nation grieved, hope rose. Stories of courage, strength, and faith began to be told and shared. Like the heroes of Flight 93 who gave their lives to save many others.
The rebuilding confirms our declarations of hope. When I visited the memorial, One World Trade Center – the new building being erected near the pools – was nearing completion. It will be the tallest building in America and a visual reminder of America’s perseverance and commitment to freedom. We have grieved, but we continue to move forward.
Believers can grieve with hope
Believers have a unique ability to grieve with hope. Paul clearly declared this hope to the Christians in Thessalonica.
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15, NLT
Yes, we experience loss and we will mourn those losses. But we do not have to grieve like those without Christ. They grieve without hope of reunion. We know our loss will be restored. When Christ returns, we will be united with those believers who have gone before us. Our loss is temporary. Our hope, eternal.
How does the eternal hope of a believer temper our grief? Who have you lost that you know you will see again when Christ comes?