I see many parallels between 9/11 and the pandemic of 2020. What is the main difference—for me—between these two life-changing events? This time, I am a mother.
On 9/11, not only were the skies eerily quiet, but a blanket of sobriety covered the small town where I lived in Pennsylvania, about 90 miles from where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. After a rush of squeaky carts in grocery stores as consumers stock-piled supplies for the indefinite length of the pandemic, we experienced a similar hush this past March in New Jersey (where I now live), an initial hot spot for the virus in the U.S.
The difference? This time, I am a mother, and the palpable silence settled over the neighborhoods and parks where my children play.
Although the skies and streets temporarily quieted during both events, our minds did not. No, the space between our ears filled with questions. What is the risk? How long will it last? When will life return to “normal,” if it ever will? How great is the threat to my loved ones, and how can I protect them?
But now I am a mother, and my children have an underlying health condition; these questions hit closer to home in 2020. What does this virus mean for my children and their future?
As time passed, minutes and hours and days and months, some of us experienced deep, personal loss because of these crises. All of us experienced a collective grief with its various levels of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We walked through those stages at different times, not always understanding one another. Some of us are still picking up the pieces or suffering the consequences; others are eager to move forward.
What is different? Not only do I see and experience the impacts of these events and the grief they add to my own life, but I see and experience the pandemic’s impact on my children’s lives. Health considerations due to the on-going presence of coronavirus impact their social involvement and education indefinitely.
Both events introduced a new terror, one we didn’t see coming, one that suddenly swept into our lives and homes. With this terror came fear, uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety.
This time, my children are afraid. Not only do I counsel my own heart, but I counsel theirs.
Finally, 9/11 and the pandemic of 2020 opened our eyes to see the brokenness of the world we live in, a fallen world that groans for redemption. A world whose radiant sunrises and sunsets declare the glory of its Creator, yet a world that longs for freedom from the curse of sin and death. From terrorism and pandemics, from fear itself, and especially from the fear of death.
They remind us that we live in a world between two gardens—Eden and Heaven.
Now I am a mother in this world, an in-between land, a sojourning land. And this is the world that my children are growing up in.
What is the same? My hope is the same, and it is the only true hope any of us can offer our children. This hope will treat them kinder than a best friend or a college degree. It is more real than good wishes or false assurances about the future. It will be faithful regardless of what tomorrow brings.
My hope is found in the unraveling of sin and the appearance of Jesus. In redemption started but waiting for consummation:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”Titus 2:11-14 ESV
Although sobered by historic events, everyone who flees for refuge to Jesus finds encouragement. Hope in him is a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19 ESV).
We remember 9/11. We live in 2020. True hope for us and our children will always and only be found in Jesus.