"We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger," Obama reportedly said in an interview with Bob Woodward.
I don't know really know what the President meant by that comment. It does sound cavalier and fairly arrogant to me. But, it got me thinking about those things that did help the country through that horror. On September 11th and the days that followed the country turned to God. Congress members sang "God Bless America" on the capitol steps. There was a massive gathering of citizens in Churches across the country to pray in unity with bells tolling simultaneously. The prayers in song, in speech and in hearts sent out by a humble nation beseeching Our Creator, were answered. To say we "absorbed" the attacks is to dismiss the miraculous blessings of divine grace, mercy and sanctification that were so necessary.
God shed His grace on this country following September 11th. So, what is meant by grace? It is a divinely bestowed enabling power. God blessed us with the power to overcome. Grace is the power we didn't know we had until we needed it. And we didn't know we needed it until we humbled ourselves enough to recognize it. To receive grace requires more of us than just asking. It requires us to put ourselves in a position to have access to true power. The attacks were not what humbled us, it was turning to God that humbled us, and than He enabled us to overcome and keep moving forward.
Grace is necessary for mercy. Mercy often is described as forgiveness. Well, forgiveness is indeed a merciful act, but mercy is more broad than that. To me mercy is a restoration of that which was lost. When combined with grace it becomes divine, and thus it is a power to restore those things which only divinity can. We all lost a sense of peace, safety, and freedom that day. God blessed us with buckets of mercy in order to restore those things again. Understand that sometimes that restoration takes a while. In fact the attacks are still very raw in some ways. But, through grace and mercy there is overcoming and there is restoration and it continues today.
Mercy is necessary for sanctification, the process of making something holy. We look back on that day with great sorrow, and also great respect, for those who were lost, many many heroes among them. One of the greatest miracles there is, is for something good to come out of something bad. It is truly divine. God can and does sanctify trials for our welfare. In short it is not trials that make us better people. Rather trials bring us to our knees, to God, and He makes us better. We were better, we were more unified and charitable to one another after that. To continue the process of sanctification we have to be willing to learn the lessons from that day, those attacks, and the processes we went through for overcoming.
We know our country will continue to experience trials, that is just a reality. But, if we have an attitude of just absorbing the next one, we are not exercising the humility necessary for the gifts that will get us through, grace, mercy and sanctification.
We are facing plenty of trials right now as a nation. We could most certainly use these gifts now. The answer for our trials is the same as it ever was, turn humbly to God.