Luke 22: 38-39 “Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
We realized many years ago, a man will fight for his family or his country. But he will fight to the death, remorseless and pitiless for his god.
Another realization was had after September 11th, 2001. Our world was changed forever. There was no going back to a pre-9-11 world and we had no idea how much our world would be different in just twenty years.
In June of 2000, I was in Hamburg, Germany. A friend and I had arrived in this German city of just over one million, just after dark on a train from Amsterdam. We were walking toward a part of the city where our travel book indicated there were hotels.
We walked by several men on the street. They said in low voices, “Americans.” I really didn’t pay much attention to them but the other traveler told me later they followed us. Sixteen months later was the terrorist attack on America and it was later learned, the perpetrators staged in Hamburg.
I will always wonder if those we encountered that night in 2000 may have been any of the nineteen terrorist. It’s not likely but possible. If they had been we were probably saved from a problem with them because they did not want to draw attention to themselves.
Like many Americans, I’ve wondered, how brainwashed, or how sincere and dedicated does one have to be to fly a jet into a building and kill 3,000 innocent people?
The nineteen hijackers were willing to die for their god. They were a part of the radical Muslim organization, al-Qaeda. The nineteen were from four countries in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.
They had several beliefs about what would be their fate in “paradise.” They would be martyrs, forever hailed by other Muslims as heroes, celebrated worldwide.
The point is, whatever their mental state was, their level of intellect or how great a reward their families would receive, they were willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause. Right or wrong, sane or insane, rational or brainwashed; they were willing to die.
In the weeks following the collapse of the twin towers, Margie and I were in New York City working with a Christian disaster relief organization. On several occasions, mostly between midnight and four in the morning, we were at the place called Ground Zero. The destruction was beyond comprehension; absolutely nothing like either of us had ever seen before and we had worked with three disaster relief agencies and had seen a lot.
The smell was overwhelming. The pulverized glass and concrete were bad enough but the smell of human flesh burning was beyond description. In the last twenty years, many of the site workers have died of lung cancer or other types of respiratory illnesses. A fireman from Louisville, Kentucky that became a good friend of ours, died of lung cancer in 2006.
Since that horrible day, nearly 7,000 American soldiers have died in the fight against terrorism, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 52,000 have been wounded. Many of those came home missing legs or arms, blinded or burned beyond recognition from road-side bombs (called Improvised Explosive Device).
Over half a million people have died as a result of actions because of the terrorists and other nations since 9-11. The cost in lives is staggering and the monetary cost is also monumental. One estimate of the cost is 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, and another is 6.4 trillion. The cost of these twenty years fighting the war on terrorism could have built nearly seven-hundred thousand miles of interstate highways.
There have been twenty-one attacks on American soil killing over 92 people and injuring 442 since September 11th, 2001. Many believe the terrorists cells are growing exponentially and the next 9-11 is in the research and development stage as of right now. Suicides of war veterans number at twenty-two per day. Homes in many countries suffer with a PTSD victim. Families have been destroyed, homeless numbers of veterans have increased and many have literally gone insane with their memories and haunts of battle.
Those that have fought and died are to be commended and honored to the fullest. They have sacrificed beyond the understanding of the rest of us.
On June 6th, 1944, 150,000 allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy France. They were fighting a German force to free France and the rest of Europe from the Nazi onslaught of murder, oppression and intimidation. They knew they were probably going to die and an estimated 4,400 soldiers did die that day.
Over 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam fighting communism and over 54,000 died in what was called the Korean conflict. World War I claimed 116,000 Americans with total deaths worldwide estimated between 15 and 22 million. World War Two claimed over 400,000 American servicemen’s lives.
It is overwhelmingly obvious, freedom isn’t free! For generations, Americans have laid down their lives so we could have the freedoms we have and so many Americans cannot seem to grasp the magnitude of the sacrifice. The only ones ever willing to die for you are the U.S. serviceman and Jesus.
Jesus said to His disciples, John 15:13 “Greater love has no man, than that he lay down his life for his friends.” In the leading scripture, Luke 22: 38-39, Jesus prayed that “this cup be taken from me.” The prayer of Jesus was not answered just as the prayers of countless mothers and fathers have not been answered that their sons and daughters come home alive.
The scripture teaches that Jesus did indeed die for the sins of all mankind. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3: 23, “For all have sinned.” That’s every one of us in this world of nearly eight billion people; plus those who came before and those yet to be born.
We are also taught by Paul in Romans 6: 23 “The wage of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” The reality of eternal life exists because Jesus was willing to die. The word “whosoever” in John 3: 16 applies to all of us just like the wage of disbelief from Romans 6: 23 applies to all of us.
The terrorists were murderers, not heroes. Their willingness to die succeeded in changing the world for generations. Their comrades are in this war for as long as it takes. It has been twenty years but this is far from over. Don’t be complacent in your personal diligence! The radicals can be anywhere. Be alert and be aware.