How long should it last? The change in our lives, I mean. The change from the disaster. We spent a week saying that we would never look at life in the same way. And yet, as the days have slipped by, things look the same. We are finding that the children which we longed to hug forever on September 11 still do things that aggravate us. We are finding that the loved ones we immediately called are harder to talk with than we thought. We are finding that the prayers that we cried out in the terror and despair of the moment are starting to sound the same. We are finding that we are not made to simultaneously think about the immensity of thousands of lives ended and keeping a toddler’s shoes tied.
As you struggle with this tension between the tragic and the trivial, do what you did on the day of disaster: stop and listen. Listen to the children that aggravate you, and understand that listening to them will affect their future—and ours—more than hours of listening to news analysis. Listen to the loved ones, and understand that listening to their fears and providing encouragement will change the future of our community more than days of worrying about where the next attack will come. And rather than repeating the prayer of “God, why? God, how could? God, help!” listen to what Paul wrote to a group of people in a city called Philippi. While sitting in prison, aware that he lived at the whim of the government, aware of the brevity and struggles of life, Paul wrote “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7, NIV).
Peace that makes no sense, that comes at times when it humanly shouldn’t, that’s the peace we can find. And that peace will last forever.
Jon Swanson is administrative pastor at First Missionary Church in Fort Wayne