9/11 destruction allowed us to spiritually rebuild

Ira Block Badge from fire helmet discovered in the debris post 9/11/01. The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast … Continued

Ira Block

Badge from fire helmet discovered in the debris post 9/11/01.

The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.

There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.

Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.

Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.

But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.

If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.

The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.

It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm.

Thomas S. Monson is president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


More On Faith and 9/11:

Dalai Lama: Yearning for co-existence

Tony Blair: Remaking the world after 9/11

Desmond Tutu: Our post-9/11 failures

Thomas Monson: Rebuilding our souls

T.D. Jakes: Spirituality after the attack

Feisal Abdul Rauf: Radical Islam on its way out

Donald Wuerl: Peace begins internally

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Live the memorial

Mark Driscoll: Death and the hope of resurrection

Karen Armstrong: Unite through compassion

Deepak Chopra: Divided hearts, divided world

Yasir Qadhi: Americans still don’t know Islam

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  • thoreau101

    We are about as “spiritual” as a sponge. Spare us the false sanctimony.

  • joeh42

    This reminded me that for his evening broadcast on 9/11 Larry King spoke with President Hinckley, who was leader of the church at that time. It’s nice to see President Monson now fulfilling a similar role in speaking to people about this tragedy. Very inspiring. I suppose there will be some who for some reason will try and nitpick and criticize this message but I see no reason anyone who believes in God should object to anything written here.

  • nomraht1

    I just wanted to say that I am grateful for President Monson and his message. I am a member and convert of The Church of Jesus Chris of Ladder Day Saints and I testify that it is the only true church on the earth today. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and I want to say that I have been to other churches and the feelings that I have felt while being there was more fear of God then belief of a loving Heavenly Father. It was disturbing and I understand why people have been moving away from God rather then closer because of my personal experience with this. This was my experience before I was a member of the LDS church.

    When I first walked into an LDS church building, I immediately felt at peace. It as if I was coming home and felt very welcomed and so much love. Never did I feel that anywhere else. This is my personal testimony and I know that our Heavenly Father loves and knows us each personally and individually. When I decided to take the missionary discussions, it all made sense to me and I was baptized when I was 15.

    I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and I know that he sent his Only Begotten Son, Our Savior Jesus Christ to redeem us all from the bonds of hell and was resurrected so that we ALL may return to our Father in Heaven.

    This is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  • SODDI

    Did Mormons get the order to flood this board.

  • mdlnrainpatrk

    The statement that we now more than ever are moving toward God for guidance could not be a more false statement, in my opinion. Yes, as the anniversary of 9/11 is here once again, many people recapture their spirituality. But based on the people i know and through personal experience of lose, people also turn their back on faith.

    Once you lose someone who is close to you, you begin to question everything, including God. Why did God take that person so soon? Why couldn’t he have stopped this?, i hear many people asking. When a person experiences a tragedy, it is easier for most to be consumed with anger and hatred. And lets face it, many people prefer an easy release that a painful acceptance.

    One part said that once grief is gone so are the lessons that came with it. I agree with that statement because when you are feeling something you let your mind think thoughts that relate to whatever you feel. And once you’ve stopped feeling it, the thought vanish too. But i disagree with this statement because if an event happened that causes a great amount of grief, it would not go away forever. You may push it out of your mind for a while, like i do, but something will remind you of what you lost, and the thoughts come back. They may not be as strong as when it was a fresh loss, but you always touch on it. The feeling is dormant, not gone. And as i said before, if what you feel is a hatred to God for this, then one of the hardest things for you would be to turn to him for help.

  • whynotajoke

    “If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us.”

    There is no spiritual lesson to be learned other than if there is a god, s/he failed to save all of the people in those horrible attacks by people who invoked the same god to bring death and destruction upon us.

    Where was your god when he did not allow the people that were trying to escape, escape? Oh, I see, s/he was being merciful to all the family members that had to mourn the deaths of the people that had nothing to do with these scum bag POSs that did meted out this terror upon us.

    Where was your god when McVeigh slaughtered those preschool kids in Oklahoma? I guess s/he was just too bust that day to give a rats @$$.

    Give it up, or, at least know that if there is a god, s/he gave up on us long ago.

  • whynotajoke

    Coocookachoo.

  • okie1432

    It’s interesting that if you go to the messages of T.D Jakes, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Katharine Schori or Mark Driscoll you won’t find any Mormons spewing comments against their respective churches. Yet here there are plenty self-professed “Christians” who seem to love to instigate contention.

    Say what you want about what you think you know, the Bible gives us the best way of judging..”By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt 7:20)

  • esterellett

    I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love my Savoir Jesus Christ. I am grateful to be a member the LDS Church. All men and women are given agency or their free will to choose for themselves. As stated in the 11th Article of Faith :
    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.

  • sfcanative

    I can remember reciting the same verbatim, rote testimonial nonsense when I was 15. Once you get it clear what church it is you belong to . . . (not exactly sure who Jesus Chris is and ladders are used for climbing) . . . perhaps some of us will be more inclined to give an ounce of merit to the rest of your comment..

    Just to clarify, the church you belong to is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Get it right. Latter-day (lower case ‘d’, hyphen between the words. Latter as in later. Not ladder as in a tool to get on the roof.

  • iknowwhatImtalkinbout

    Your professed disinterest only reveals your interest. Come back and grab hold of the iron rod!

  • mah0105

    Some seem to think that if there were a God, He would stop every evil thing that ever happens, but that is not His purpose. Every person has agency, the ability to choose for him or herself what actions he or she will do. Instead of stopping these awful things from happening, God permitted these men to use their agency. We are on earth to prove to Him that we are willing to follow Him and keep His commandments. We cannot do that if every evil action we contemplate is stopped, even if it hurts other people.

    That being said, I do believe God DOES stop evil things from happening. However, it is impossible for us to know how many similar attacks that He has prevented. God is always there and He will never give up on us, even if we give up on Him.

  • jralger

    “There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy”

    It’s understandable … as many of us realized at that time that the faith we put in America and our Leadership was seriously shaken; an effect which still reverberates the Nation to this day.

  • whynotajoke

    Huh?!? He does what He does for a reason. Making people suffer with aids. Giving infants in India aids through blood transfusions and making them suffer. There is a reason for that. Why do you say He and not She? Did you pop out of a man’s stomach or were you squeezed out or c-sectioned out like the rest of us?

    Did he stop all the people from dying in Nagasaki? Hiroshima? Isn’t god supposed to be omniscient? Omnipresent? You mean he chooses who to let suffer and who to just kill off? Your arguments are lunacy.

  • whynotajoke

    Yes, with stupidity.

  • whynotajoke

    Ladder-day really got me though. The LDS to me is a ponzi scheme, and that may be to what she is referring to, in that the more people you convert or suck in, the higher up the ladder you go!

  • Rubinesque

    I feel quite different. Things were moving towards secular understanding, and then hopes were dashed by fanaticism.

  • sfcanative

    You may as well call it The Church of Christopher Cringle of Latte-free Saints.

  • carman1

    Hey – instead of hating on the Mormons, why not discuss the merits of the article and the value of faith, even when tragedy is not at the door?

    Some of you are so wrapped up in bagging on the LDS church that the sole purpose of your sad lives becomes trying to tear something down instead of building someone or something up. Sad.

  • carman1

    She probably fat-fingered the word “Latter” and the auto spell correct changed the word to “Ladder”.

    And instead of focusing on her thoughts, you dialed into a flaw in her communication/typing. Why is it that those who don’t like a particular religion, or religion in general, are so mean and nasty sometimes? We used to be a more gentle and civil society and are becoming intolerant and vicious to each other. Sad…

  • observer1234

    I would also like to offer another Web site that offers a “safe haven” for those searching for truth about those of the LDS faith.

    http://www.mormonhaven.com

  • observer1234

    God gave us free agency. He allows innocent to suffer to bring justification and judgment to those who cause pain and inflict others. God is a just God.

  • rw72

    What a timely and encouraging message from a true prophet of God. How much better would our nation and the entire world be if we turned to our Creator, whatever name we give Him. He loves each one of us and wants us to love and respect one another. He wants us to help each other and be honest in all of our dealings. Imagine a world where we all followed those simple principles!

  • StephenOSmoot

    I know some even more valuable websites than “Mormon Think”:

    http://www.fairlds.org
    farms.byu.edu

  • LDSRevelations

    There are as many valid and spiritual ways to deal with tragedy as there are people. There is not only one valid and appropriate way to respond. Personally I find doubt, or a loss of faith just as acceptable a response to this horrible act perpetrated by organized religious extremists as increased belief or faith.

    No surprise then that I disagree with Thomas Monson here. First, there is no one right response to 9/11. In fact in a pluralistic and yes, I hope, secular society the fact that we allow for varied responses is the whole point. Second in the wake of 9/11 I think a move away from God or at least the God presented by organized religion is a better move than a recomittment to bronze age thinking that is IMO often a gateway drug towards extremism in the first place.

    Contrary to what religious leaders will tell you, being a moral, giving, kind and productive person does not require God or religion— and although there are bad people in the world, there is much more good. For me it makes more sense to focus on making the world better and helping solve the real issues rather
    than investing my time money and resources in to promoting a single belief system— and trying to convince everyone else to buy into it as well.

    “let them worship how, where or what they may.”

    I get tired of watching issues go un-addressed by religious leaders and politicians as they pontificate about ideologies.

    my .02.

  • LDSRevelations

    @underdog1123-

    “The LDS church is the “best kept secret” in the world to make one happy. The detractor’s distorted facts and misrepresentations only serve to soothe their carnal need to lead people away from the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Well, with 50K+ missionaries worldwide it’s hardly a secret— and honestly there are many people who do not agree with your assertion that Mormonism is the only source to true happiness…or even a source for that matter. For example I was born and raised an active member for 35+ years before researching the foundational history and finding out that the Church is not what it claims to be. Turns out the Church is less than up-front and honest with it;s history and doctrine. But more importantly I Iearned that my happiness was my own responsibility and not something that Mormonism would give me IF I was somehow worthy.

    I realize that it makes you uncomfortable when people are criitical of your faith but the fact is others disagree with what Pres. Monson and you are promoting. In a free society that’s OK, right. You will continue to proselytize and claim that Mormonism is the best chance at happiness— and others (many others) will disagree with you.

  • order66

    “…and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.”

    Unless, of course, they’re gay.

  • Tornogal

    Underdog 1123,

    Our family closely investigated Mormonism, and I see things very differently.

    I think the more the Mormon church pushes its image and message, the more poorly it will fair. I think it is a good thing for people interested in your church to go to the sites you listed. But I also think they should investigate dissenting views, and I think they are.

    Most churches count as “members” the people who attend. But as we understood from the several times we visited, your church says it has 14 million members, but we were told activity rates were about half of the members listed on the registry.

    And some of the facts we learned on-line blew us away:

    - Joseph smith apparently didn’t report his “First Vision” to even his followers for several years after he said it happened. And when he did, they recorded about ten different versions of what he had told them.

    - The Book of Mormon was changed almost 4,000 times. Most of those were minor, but if it was divinely translated, how could that be? And several of the changes were hugely doctrinal. How can that be?

    - The Book of Mormon (yes, we read it–it was a hard read) talks about giant cities, wars and events that there is zero archaeological evidence for. And it talks about wheels, horses, and plants that did not exist here. It also talks about people coming from the Middle East when DNA says they came from Siberia.

    - Joseph Smith said he was not a polygamist, but your church’s website and others list his 30+ wives.

    - The Book of Abraham is not at all what Joseph Smith said it was, not by a mile. Egyptologists can now read the scrolls he found and they say the scripture is all made up.

    - The notion that God was once a man was weird to us, as was the notion that Adam was God. But your prophets taught that.

    - The fact that the Mormon church refuses to open its financial books for people to look at bothered us a lot. And that is especially when they buy so much land and are building a $4 billion mall. It looked a lot m

  • MrE2

    God understand one truth. That which does not kill you makes you stronger. He also understands that the death of the body isn’t the death of the spirit. Our trials teach us the lessons which will bring us happiness for all eternity. If you’re beliefs don’t include an eternity of learning and growing even after death, then you’ll have a much more difficult time understanding the purpose of life’s trials.

  • JonoDecker

    sfcanative, no one has told us to chastise those who challenge us or reprove apposing voices. As far as I know, there’s been no mandate to hyperlink mormon.org or lds.org. The rest of your statement is true, but you overreach.

  • hissho1

    Whynotajoke is 100% correct. No “father” would ever allow the kinds of preventable suffering that takes place every day on earth. PERIOD!

  • hissho1

    Just so long as they maintain the dress code. Wouldn’t want any members blogging with their shoulders showing.

  • hissho1

    So as a comforted, true believing member, exactly which version of the first vision do you subscribe to?

  • happygirl5

    A surge in faith? I disagree. Faith is the quality that made 911 possible. These men who flew planes into buildings were not crazy they were faithful. They had faith in their scriptures, faith in their leaders and faith in their God. It was a lesson to all of us that maybe great faith is not a virtue. Someone on here testified that their church was the only true one. If your prophet directly asked you to kill yourself or someone else would you? Please tell me you would report him to the police. Please…..

  • BlazeEagle

    Don’t blame human faults & frailty on the creator. Psychopaths use belief in the divine as an excuse to commit atrocities.

  • mrdocuman

    God is not Santa Claus, providing every need, saving us from every crisis or flaw. Even Einstein indicated he was “devout” but indicated he did not believe that God interfered in the lives of men. Just because there is evil in the world and just because accidents and illness occur does not mean there is no God. And to all those anti-Mormon commenters that somehow seem to think Mr. Monson should not address his beliefs in the article, what do you expect? He is an ecclesiastical leader, revered as a Prophet by 13 million people. Of course, he will approach 9/11 from a religious viewpoint and use the opportunity to encourage people to come to God.

  • dsquared

    Excellent essay on drawing nearer to God….to be like Him requires sacrifice, service, humility and responding to adversity and/or failure….quite difficult to give thanks and praise to the Almighty in tough times as well as good times….like the Good Book and a certain song say, Love, love, love is the answer…we may need even more than that as we personalize and globalize

  • kayliecw

    God, as a loving father, allows us to learn through our own experience which means that we sometimes do wrong things which harm ourselves and others. If he were to force us to do anything (or not to do anything) we wouldn’t learn anything. However, when we suffer from the wrong actions of others or even ourselves, and turn to him in our suffering, he does not leave us comfortless. He is the source of healing. He allows us to grow through hard experiences and increase in knowledge and wisdom.

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