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Lessons From Terror ... 20 Yrs Later

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

This week, the words “Never Forget” are front-and-center on social and national media. Many people have updated their Facebook and Twitter avatars with a “Never Forget” picture displaying the Twin Towers as a tribute to those who died 20 years ago in the September 11th attacks. Indeed, we should never forget the 2,996 victims, but may we also never forget the lessons terror taught us on that horrific day.

The first lesson terror taught us was that we need God. In record-setting ways, people filled church houses following the deplorable acts of 9/11 seeking the “God of all comfort.” People packed into prayer meetings on bended knees pursuing “a very present help in trouble.” Sadly, this spiritual awakening was short-lived.

Second, a lesson from terror that we must never forget is that we love America. The sobering events that took place on that frightful day brought a refreshing spirit of patriotism across our country. As a nation, we recognized that first-responders are heroes. Policemen, firefighters, and medical personnel were rightly and openly praised for their Christ-like sacrifice as they willingly offered their lives for the sake of others. But, unfortunately, that lesson too has faded from memory. In recent years, we’ve seen highly-paid NFL players wearing socks displaying police officers as pigs and refusing to stand for the national anthem. More recently, the defund the police movement has run it’s foolish course in Minneapolis, my hometown. Shockingly, our headlines over the last several months have included stories of police officers being murdered in the streets. This social unrest and political division indicates that many people have forgotten their love for America.

Third, terror teaches us to never forget that life is short. The people on those planes, the people in the World Trade Center, and the people in the Pentagon were approaching the day as a typical Tuesday morning. They had no idea that it was the last day of their lives.

Fourth, the terrifying actions of 9/11 teach us to never forget that evil is real. John 8 tells the reader that the Devil was a murderer from the beginning. The Devil’s murderous agenda was certainly seen in the death toll of that day. Jeremiah 17:9 explains that evil is present within every human heart and that the evil heart is inexplicable. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know (understand) it?”

Fifth, terror teaches us that death is certain. People often ask, why did all those innocent people die? The startling fact is that death comes to everyone. This year 2.5 million people will die in America and the Bible explains why. It says, “The wages of sin is death.” “It is appointed unto man once to die.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Death, in every case represents the justice of God upon sinful mankind.

The bigger question isn’t why did God allow those people to die, but why do we get to live? The Bible proclaims that we live under constant mercy. When justice shows up, we’re shocked. We get so used to the grace that gives us life that we don’t understand justice.

Finally, a lesson from terror that we must never forget is that God is good. Many of the grave-markers of the 9/11 victims beautifully display a cross. The main message from God through the cross is “I love you.” The cross reminds us of the sacrificial death of Christ, but the story of Jesus doesn’t stop at the cross. The goodness of God is revealed in the empty tomb. It tells us that there is One who conquered death and offers mankind eternal life. John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in Scripture, declares it to be so.

May we never forget that we need God, that we love America, that life is short, that evil is real, that death is certain and that God is good.

The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is the Pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola. To offer him your feedback, find him on Twitter @JamesJohnsonSFL or email him at

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