I wept as I stood by.
(June 29, 2019) I was standing on a stone laid pathway that that was laid along the final flight path of United Flight 93 as it screamed toward the earth at more than 563 mile an hour. Aboard the hijacked Boeing 757, 40 passengers decided they were going to “do something.” In their attempt to overpower the hijackers and prevent further tragedy in Washington the plane plummeted to the earth and exploded in a field in western Pennsylvania.
As I read the names I wept. Todd Beamer and Thomas Burnett, Jr -- and one stone bearing the name Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas and unborn child, and the thirty-seven others–ordinary men and women in their lives–extraordinary in their death.
We are all ordinary men––ordinary that is, until we are suddenly set upon by extraordinary circumstances. Like Daniel in the den of lions, Gideon, surrounded by an army of Midianites or Peter faced the terrors of his cross, or the young man who leaps into the frozen waters of a river to rescue a terrified child, or the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow warriors. It is quite possible that there is a day approaching in which circumstances will arise that are extraordinary in a greater sense than we have ever known.
I wept as I stood in the place where forty ordinary men and women responded to the extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary valor; facing evil with a courage that transcended their fears. I wondered as I wept whether I would find the courage to act in the face of paralyzing fear, or to stand firm in the face of dreadful threats; perhaps to embrace my own death in the face of a cause that is greater than my own self.
As Christians we live in a culture that possesses an ever intensifying disdain for our faith. As the spirit of lawlessness grows and the secular seeks more and more to bury the holy, I suspect that many of us might live to face idols before which we are commanded to bow and unholy flags that demand our allegiance. I suspect we may soon face moments of decision as the hatred for the things and the people of God intensifies.
As dark as these words may sound, we should not be without hope for the Word of God declares, “My grace is sufficient,” and the hymn writer once wrote:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. (Annie Johnson Flint)