Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
I remember clearly waking up on the morning of September 12. I was 18 years old and had fallen asleep in front of my tv the previous evening. As I awoke I was immediately confronted by images of planes plowing into the Twin Towers.
Most of us had slept through these events, entirely oblivious to what was happening. Yet like a stone thrown into a pond creates a ripple, the events of that day have sent ripples though our world so that none of our lives have remained entirely untouched.
Some events are so significant that they are literally world changing. Some are tragic, such as 9/11 or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Others bring hope, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. Still others are more personal, such as the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one. Whether for good or for ill, some events are utterly life changing. 9/11 was definitely one such event.
On September 16, 2001 the line to get into Redeemer Presbyterian Church stretched down the road as people came in search of answers.
The Pastor of the Church, Tim Keller added another service on the spot, as the Church's regular attendance of 2800 ballooned to 5300 people. That morning Keller looked to find hope in the greatest of world changing events. The resurrection of Jesus.
Keller turned to the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. This was a more personal tragedy than that which New York was experiencing. Yet many of the feelings a questions were evident in both stories. Both events lead to grief, anger and a sense of hopelessness. Both even raised questions of God's power to have stopped the tragedy.
However all of these questions find their answer in Jesus claim that he is "the resurrection and the life." As I revisited his words, the following grabbed me afresh.
"Do you know what Jesus Christ is saying when he says, 'I am the resurrection?' He is not saying that he will give us a nicer place. He is going to make everything that happened this week be a bad dream. He is not just giving you a consolation. He is going to make it come untrue. He is going to incorporate even the worst things that have ever happened to you. They will be taken up into the glory that is to come in such a way that they make the glory better and greater for having once been broken."
For Keller, the resurrection is the greatest world changing event because it offers more than a momentary consolation. It offers the hope that suffering and hardship will be unwound. That the same God who could even raise Jesus from the dead, can raise my life. One day all of my struggles, even my very death will seem as fleeting as a bad dream.
Yet more than this, it gives our lives here and now meaning. Even the hard parts. My troubles may feel like random event, thrown at me by a universe which is indifferent and insensible to me hopes or desires. I may never even understand why God might allow me to go through a particular trials.
But I can know that somehow even the lowest moments of my life are being use by God to ready me for that time when all that is wrong is undone. That somehow the glory of heaven will be even greater for the struggles of life.
2000 years after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, this great truth continues to send, not ripples, but waves of hope around our world. Countless million find their lives swept up in, and utterly transformed by, this greatest of world changing events. Will you?