by Stephen Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2012

…HOW TO KEEP OUR VISION SHARP WHEN DAYS SEEM DARK

Recently the United States solemnly observed the eleventh anniversary of the horrific September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the nation. Nearly 3,000 people died on that day in New York City, in Washington, DC, and in Shanksville, PA. Included among the victims were citizens of more than 90 nations from across the globe. The events of that day largely shaped national policy and economics for many nations in the following years.

Shockingly, on this year’s anniversary of that terrible day, there were further terror attacks against United States embassies and personnel in the Middle East. Once more, we were caught unprepared to deal with forces of evil, rage, terrorism, and chaos. Once again, a nation grieves and searches for answers.

Soon, American citizens will go to the polls to elect a President for the next four years. As always, the results of this election will profoundly affect-not only the United States-but every nation on earth. Without question, it’s cause for prayer and concern for everyone reading this today.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the sky was crystal blue over New York City and no one, other than the terrorists, could have imagined what was about to ensue. The fact is, none of us knows from day-to-day what event could happen that might forever change our lives. Some tests and trials, we know about. Some come as a great surprise.

I believe these days call for vigilance and diligence, but not for fear. If ever we need to see clearly, it is now. I’ve found that fear or it’s companion. Rage, are-though natural responses to crisis-the very things that tend to blind us and exacerbate the trouble.

Another typical human response is to look to “the flesh” for solutions… our own wisdom or strength or resources, or even, perhaps, political parties or candidates. While God does indeed raise up friends or leaders to address crises, we must never lose sight of our ultimate hope and help.

I remember taking my daughter to school early one morning in the days after 9/11/01. She was telling me what their class was learning and she told me that their teacher had taught them memory verses from Psalm 46. I asked, “What does it say?” She said, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear though the earth be removed and though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea.” My eyes filled with tears at the power of those words.

What a beautiful reminder, then, and again in these days, of God’s Sovereign plan, power, and grace. Psalm 121 says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” The Lord is not only the right place to look, but by looking to Him, our vision is healed and clarified, and all of life becomes brighter; direction and purpose and hope are revealed. May it ever be so, especially in these days in our history together.

Scripture Reference: Psalm 46, Psalm 121