“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
There are times in our lives when events will be burned into our memory banks forever. I can still vividly remember how dense the fog was on the morning that my dad was killed in an automobile accident when I was seven; I remember how he looked laying in a casket days later. I remember my 8th grade teacher coming into our classroom after lunch with tears in her eyes as she told us that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas; I remember that we were sent home for the afternoon and walking home on that cold and cloudy November day.
I remember standing in the southwest quadrant of the I-80 interchange at Kearney, NE when I heard the radio in our State van announce that the Challenger space shuttle had exploded shortly after takeoff. I remember preparing to eat dinner at the Hotel Kinam in Petionville, Haiti when I was told that I had a phone call and went to the front desk and learned that my sister had lost her battle to liver cancer in 1999.
On this day in 2001 I was sitting at a computer in a cyber-café in Petionville on a hot and humid sunny morning. This building had four rooms, no glass in the windows, and no AC. The front room was set up as a waiting room with a small B&W television. The next room had six computers set up on tables with plastic lawn chairs. The two rooms adjacent to this room were where the family who owned this business lived and one room had a few baby goats making sounds and smells that only goats can make; there were gnats and mosquitos buzzing in the still air.
I had paid the attendant for an hour of time to use their internet and was in the middle of checking my mail when I heard “ohs” coming from the waiting room and was curious so I stood and peeked around the corner to see what was causing their reaction to what was being shown on the television. The French speaking Canadian news channel was broadcasting the video footage of the first airplane smashing into the World Trade Center; my heart sank.
I sent an Email to my supervisor Pastor Jim Tino advising that all seemed safe in Haiti and finished sending a report to some mission societies in North America and then logged off and went to the waiting room. At that time, I was not yet driving by myself so I had to sit and wait for my driver to return to pick me up at a designated time so there was about thirty minutes of sitting in the waiting room and praying.
When my driver returned I called my supervisor on the satellite phone and found out that the LCMS World Missions was bringing some missionaries out of their country for safety reasons but I assured him that it seemed to quiet in Haiti and the only reaction to this event was sadness on the part of the Haitian people, offering me condolences in the loss of those innocent people.
When we least expect them, destruction comes like a thief in the night. We are comforted that our Savior has conquered sin, death and the devil for us on the cross of Calvary. Nothing in this world can separate us from His love and our faith continues to rest upon Him. While satan continues to throw unexpected calamities into this world that impact our journey and remain in our memory it is okay to not lose sight of them but it is also important to never forget who is in control of this world. Our Triune God allows things to happen in our lives that seem to be unthinkably horrible but through them all we grow stronger and closer to Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay