I remember September 11, 2001.
I sent a message to E-MIN subscribers around the world. It was a message from my heart. I would like to share it with you today.
"As the world recovers from the terrible acts of terrorist violence in New York and Washington, D.C., USA, I would encourage you to remember that among the injured, there are those who have no bleeding wounds, no broken bones, and no outward signs of physical injury. They have been deeply wounded emotionally and spiritually, and they need the healing and restoration of God as literally as any who were physically wounded, perhaps more so.
"They do not need your pity, and truly, most do not want it. They need your prayers, your love, and your strength and courage extended to them in a time when theirs has been shattered.
"What I say to you, I say from personal experience, not rhetoric or "religious" sounding words. Having experienced the untimely tragic loss of my wife last year and other catastrophic circumstances, I can personally attest that only God can turn such a tragedy into triumph.
"Do not let this be just one more sensational news report. Make a sacrifice of your time and pray for them from your heart!
"YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, of that I am certain. I survived because people cared and reached out to me with their love and prayers, making a difference in my life at a time and in a way that I could not help myself. You can make that same difference in someone's life!
"Be willing to share with these injured your love, your prayers, and the message of hope and restoration that is found only in Jesus Christ."
That was my message to the world one year ago.
Touching responses poured in from around the world. I have posted some of those on the website. Click here to read them.
From my own pain and loss I have come to understand a profound truth. A simple truth. 1Pain is Pain.
I think about it when I am talking with others and listening to their problems. "Pain is pain." The words resound deep within me. It is not necessary for me to feel exactly what they are feeling. All I need to know is that they are hurting. I know what it feels like to hurt.
I would like to share with you an experience I had as a young boy growing up in rural Alabama.
2In the sixties, Civil Rights legislation had been enacted, racial segregation was abolished, and tensions were high. But laws are easier to change than people.
In our little town, we had a grocery store near a railroad track, known as "Mr. Henry's". I could sit on the wide concrete steps of Mr. Henry's and watch the trains go by.
One day, after a train had passed, I saw two boys of another "race" coming across the tracks with a dog.
As I watched, I began to notice their dog. I had a dog too.
Then a thought flashed into my mind. A thought I had never heard before. More than a thought. This thought became an observation. Then a concept. Then a value.
The thought was, "Their dog looks just like mine."
I suppose that in my "little boy's" mind I thought that "their" dogs should somehow look different than "our" dogs.
They were just boys, and I was a boy, and "their dog looked just like mine". So, what WAS the difference? There was no difference.
From that day on, I didn't "get it". I never wanted to "get it" again for the rest of my life. I saw no reason to hate "them" without a cause. (I "got" that!)
I believe God "spoke" to me that day. He just whispered a simple thought in little boy's mind and heart that would change his life forever.
That day changed one little boy's life.
September 11, 2001 changed many little boy's lives.
The wounded were diverse. They came from different places. They spoke different languages. Their skin may have looked different than yours. But understand this: Their blood, shed one year ago, looks just like yours. Their tears, shed one year ago, look just like yours. And when you look into their eyes and see the pain of their loss, their eyes look just like yours. And mine.
So I ask you today, what is the difference? There is no difference. If the terrorists has understand this truth one year ago, there would not have been a "9/11" tragedy.
Something wonderful was awakened in us that day. But already, the hot passion of compassion has begun to diminish. For many, 9/11 is becoming little more than a memory.
Many are still hurting. But the pain of loss does not fade so quickly as the heat of compassion.
Remember also, that the wounded and hurting are not limited to New York and Washington D.C. There are wounded and hurting people all around you, perhaps, even sitting next to you this morning.
Be willing to reach out to one another in love, care, and compassion. Do not allow "9/11" to become a memory of sensational photographs and tragic statistics, rendered sterile by the passing of time.
Love passionately. Care deeply. Let the fire of compassion burn within you. Reach out to those who are hurting.
And allow the love of God to flow through you to a hurting world.
We thank You for Your limitless mercy and grace, Your unconditional love extended to us in a time when ours has been shattered, and Your unfailing promise that the darkness and the night will not endure forever, but that joy comes in the morning.
We look forward to a new day in our lives, in our city, and in our nation, a day that only You can bring to be.
We have sown in tears. Your promise is that we shall reap a certain and sure harvest of joy if we do not faint.
Help us to keep the fires of compassion burning HOT, and help us to exemplify Your character, Your ways, and Your love to a hurting world that so desperately needs to see genuine Godly love in action.
Thank You, Father, for loving us. We love You with all our heart.
In Jesus' name, so be it. Amen.
(c) 2002 G. Randall Vaughn ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1 Adapted from the "Lessons from Life" message titled Pain is Pain
2 Adapted from the "Lessons from Life" message titled If Jesus had a dog