I had just hopped on the treadmill, my one-hour reprieve when Jon was little. Music flooded my ear buds as I picked up the pace. All was well.
I glanced at the TV to see the morning news . . . typical drama. The screen was split. On one side was the news anchor, and on the other side was video footage of smoke billowing up into the blue morning sky.
The story continued for 15 minutes, which was quite unusual. I assumed the fire being reported was on the west coast. Since they weren’t leaving the scene, I watched with a little more interest.
The next scene is forever etched in my memory. A shadow appeared through the smoke and suddenly slammed into an enormous building. I stopped everything––music and running.
In an instant, the world changed forever. An exploding conflagration, towers falling, planes crashing, thousands of lives launching into unprecedented chaos. Many of us will never be the same.
My children were eight, seven, and three 17 years ago. I held them close, cried, and had no clue what direction the world would take. I don’t know where you were the morning of September 11, 2001; I do know you have been affected by its catastrophe.
It has changed our government, how we travel, how we relate and connect, how we feel, and, most deeply, what we believe.
For 17 years, we’ve all experienced the way the world attempts to move on after catastrophic, irreversible loss. Everyone has been affected in some way . . .
- Endless regulations
- Countless new laws
- An entire governing system created (“Homeland Security”)
- Public outrage and verbal assaults
- Social platforms founded and built on indignant bitterness
- Dashed hopes and broken promises
- Human cruelty in extreme
- Visual trauma going viral
On this day, the anniversary of one of America’s most tragic events, I’m reminded of one truth:
Sinful people will never solve the problems sin has created.
Read that last sentence again . . . slowly.
Sinful People Can’t Solve Sinful Problems
It is that simple, but we’ve made it incredibly complicated. I am not denying the need for rules or regulations; we all need to live responsibly. I get that.
Christians are called to seek unity; love one another; do right; provide and protect; and seek what is just, right, pure, and true. That isn’t the problem. That’s the simple part.
Things get complicated when we BELIEVE the world can create a system or give an adequate answer to situations like 9/11 . . . and all our world’s other problems. Despite our best attempts, after 17 years, we are no closer to unity and peace. Human structures cannot provide the hope and help we all long for.
One of the reasons my son with disabilities is a gift to my life is that his challenges remind me how limiting my sinful nature truly is. Unless God chooses to miraculously heal Jon––which only God can do––Jon will NEVER function as a typical person.
His challenges are endless. His struggles are countless—every day he is alive.
Jon’s therapies, medications, and life structure provided by others allow Jon to have a better quality of life but not a whole quality of life. Yes, Jonathan has enviable character strengths, and his life has profound meaning and purpose; Jon is uniquely created just as you and I are uniquely created.
But those truths don’t negate the fact that Jon will always live in a body that cannot function without many supportive structures in place. Jonathan would die without the external supports.
Now, let’s get complicated. What if I believed Jon should and could function as if he had no disabilities because he appears “normal” . . . however you define “normal.” Regardless of what I believed or hoped for, I will never be able to heal my son.
But if I believed more therapies, diets, medications, supports, schedules, whatever . . . would be the perfect answer to his disabilities (easing my life challenges as well), would that help him, me, or you?
Clearly, despite my trying to change what God has allowed for reasons I may or may not ever know, my son’s disabling conditions will be with him and us until he is home with the Lord.
What we believe changes everything! For years, I believed if I followed all the recommended therapies, diets, routines, visual charts, you name it . . . then Jon’s challenges would drastically lessen if not be totally removed.
By following the “rules,” life would be better. One of the hardest days in my life was in June 2006. Dr. Trice in Orange County, California, looked at me and said, “Colleen, he is going to be the work of ten children.
We are testing for every possible cause for his additional eight diagnoses.” Previously, I had followed the “rules,” established the structure, kept to the diets . . . and things only seemed terribly worse.
I was blurred by anger infused with raging grief. I let God have it . . . unlike many in the church who don’t know it’s okay to speak on that intimate level with our Heavenly Father who already knows what we are feeling, thinking, and more.
In my world, I had religiously followed the systems of thought so closely that the neurologist thought I was a doctor. And as reason would say, the result should have been fool-proof.
After all, God was supposed to work within our human confines and give us free will, right? Where is that in the Bible?
There were and are no words to describe the vast inner conflict and spiritual disruption. Like watching the towers fall on 9/11, my entire world was thoroughly crushed.
I had expected human systems of thought, the most current research, and my pursuit of every therapeutic plan to solve the “problem.” I was so wrong, because my beliefs were misdirected. It was how I reasoned.
Suffering is pervasive. That tragic day on September 11, 2001, did not cause more problems. Rather, it magnified the root of our problems––we are incapsulated, engrossed, and fully occupied in a sinful nature which can only be changed by our Heavenly Father.
We don’t need more regulations, more laws, more whatever . . . we need GOD.
Let Me Hear from You
I grieve with those who lost so much in the 9/11 attack. I cry with you. I also know where you will find hope. If you are disrupted by these words, perhaps the root is misplaced hope.
Place your hope in God’s grace-filled offer. Surrender to your limits, and embrace His promises. Without God, our endeavors complicate life. With God and His Word, life is simplified. How can I walk beside you today?
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