Memory Monday: Tackling 9/11 (John 16:33)

Unless you live in a cave, this week is going to be filled with stories and remembrances about 9/11. Unless you have very small children, you're going to find yourself answering questions this week about that horrible day 10 years ago. I don't know about you, but it's difficult for me, even 10 years later, to process exactly what type of people would celebrate killing so many innocents. Watching those towers fall qualifies as the single most horrifying experience of my life. I've never felt so helpless, angry, sad and overwhelmed. It seemed as if in that one day, the world had gone crazy.

My kids don't remember that day. My oldest was three months old. They have no memories of the horror and the tears. They don't remember watching New Yorkers stream across the George Washington and Brooklyn bridges on foot, their shocked faces covered in ash. They don't know what it was like to see two buildings that we knew were full of people simply disappear in an instant. To them, 9/11 is something they hear about every now and then. It's still incomprehensible, but it's not a personal experience.

Unless you have older teenagers, our kids don't remember a time that they didn't have to take off their shoes to go through airport security. They don't remember a New York skyline that included twin skyscrapers. The word terrorism has always been a part of their vocabulary. Our kids are products of a post-9/11 world, and as we remember the tragedy of 10 years ago we have to keep that in mind.

When we talk with our kids about the events of that day, we have to remember that their lens is different from our own. They need us to be able to share with them both the tragedy and the heroism of that day. They need to know that God did not forget us in the face of evil on that day. They need to hear our stories, so they can begin to process that event and understand how it affected their world.

It's natural to want to shy away from talking about 9/11. Even 10 years later, the horror of that day is still fresh. It changed all of our lives, and our kids need to know that. All this week, the blog is going to look at ways we can talk with our kids about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. It's important for our kids to hear our stories and our perspective on that day to help them process through it. If we let media coverage and teachers be the lead communicators on this, then we miss an opportunity to help our children sort through the issues of bad things happening even though God is good.

Start today by learning John 16:33 together. In these verses, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Talk with your kids about what this verse means. Explain that even though bad things happen because there is sin in the world, Jesus defeated sin when he died on the cross. That doesn't mean that He always keeps bad things from happening. We all get to choose what we do, and there are consequences for our actions. 9/11 happened because a group of people chose to do a horrible thing. We all felt the consequences of those actions. But that doesn't mean that God wasn't there. That doesn't mean that in the end, God doesn't triumph.

Bad things happen, but God is always there. He offers comfort. He offers courage. He brings light out of the darkness and good out of evil. God is always there.

The events of 9/11 are nearly incomprehensible. Boiling it down so our kids can grasp what happened is a tough task, especially when we are still trying to process it ourselves. But God offers us wisdom as well as comfort. Lean on Him this week as you talk with your kids. He will provide the words to help your kids understand.