I was viewing a dramatic series chronicling the adventures of a master spy. The show was depicting a flashback to an earlier time in the spy’s life when he was living in New York City. As the scene shifted to a grainy view of the Big Apple from the 1990s, my heart was pained as the camera panned the familiar skyline of Manhattan. There it was, the Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center, standing in its glory, the tallest building in the world, at that time.
Like a generation earlier for those who witnessed or heard of President Kennedy’s assassination, I remember the exact moment I saw and witnessed the hijacked jet planes crash into the towers on September 11, 2001. I also remember the collapse of both towers, compounding the tragedy. For days, I was devastated and joined millions in this nation and around the world who mourned our collective losses. Even to this day, on every 9/11, it is impossible for me to not remember with great sadness, the tragic events of the day.
Today, on a portion of the site where the Twin Towers once stood, there is a memorial and museum, a solemn tribute to the thousands of people who perished on that horrific day. For those who had seen the Twin Towers in its former glory, visiting the memorial is bittersweet. The image of the original magnificent towers is burned within the memories of so many and it would never be seen again. Yet, from the ashes of that horror, hope arises that a better world, one marked by peace and cooperation may someday prevail.
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
Ezra 3:12-13 (ESV)
I can imagine the mixed feelings the Israelites had when they witnessed the new temple being built. This older generation had witnessed many of their family members and fellow priests slaughtered by their Babylonian conquerors, over 70 years earlier. They witnessed the destruction of a temple that King Solomon had built hundreds of years earlier, a temple that was a testimony to the greatness of God and Israel. They wept loudly for the grandeur of the former temple and their loss. Yet a new generation was also filled with hope for a better future and they shouted for joy.
This is the lesson that the tragedies of life teach us. Once gone, we should never forget the glories of our past, but we do not dwell upon these losses. Our hope is in God who always directs us to a greater and more glorious future. Only in God do we have hope that surpasses all understanding.
God is holding each of us-tenderly, so that we may cry; firmly, so that we do not despair.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.