Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].
Romans 12:15 AMP
Today marks 19 years of the tragedy that occurred at the World Trade Center and affected the hearts of Americans across the world.
2,977 people killed.
Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members, and strangers. Gone. But they will never be forgotten, why?
Is it because their stories and the trauma of 9/11 are engrained into the hearts of every American? No. Some can’t relate, some will never relate. I was four years old when it occurred. We just moved to Atlanta, we had a newborn baby in the house, life seemed good for us at the time. So, why should I care? 19 years later. Generations have been born now that have no idea of the ramifications that 9/11 had on people’s lives yet are still being taught to respect it in schools and in their homes. Why? They weren’t even alive. What does it have to do with them? What does it have to do with me? Why do we keep this terrible memory alive?
Empathy is a Godly attribute.
Empathy is different than sympathy. Sympathy says, “aw, that’s too bad but it was so long ago so you should get over it” while empathy says, “wow, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m here for you.”
Do you notice the change in tonality? Do you see the change in perspective?
Sympathy says “me” but empathy says “we.” Sympathy doesn’t want to be bothered by the negative emotions of someone else but empathy embraces the emotions of another so that they can heal. Sympathy points out the hole that someone’s in but doesn’t address the issue but empathy gets in the hole with them and becomes the light in their dark place.
In life, there will be trouble. Jesus tells us that. It’s inevitable because we live in a broken world. But not only do we live in a broken world, we love in a broken world. We get in the darkest places of people’s lives so that they can see the light and come near to it.
There will be things in this life that don’t affect you personally but should affect your heart because of the love of God in you. You might not have been directly affected by 9/11 but I guarantee you that someone in your life has been and 19 years later they’re still trying to find a way to cope with the disaster. You might not truly understand why we go back in time on this date, 9/11, every year but some people have been stuck in time for the last 19 years.
Some people might not feel stuck but their hearts are reminded once again of the loss of life that once brought joy to their lives. They just need a moment to dwell on that person, those times, and that day. That’s okay. As believers, we join with them. We honor the loss. We respect the grief. We get in the trenches of tragedy in the lives of others and help them see their way out.
This isn’t just about 9/11, this is about life. If you hear the Spirit speaking to you today, don’t harden your heart. Rejoice with those who rejoice but grieve with those who are still grieving. Whether 19 years or 155 years later, join in with them.