Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” _God to Abraham, (Genesis 15:15)
Arguably, we are living in one of the most challenging and troublesome times of our lives. But we have a choice…
We can count this as a 9/11 year or a 12/7 year.
9/11, of course, refers to that infamous day in 2001 when the United States was attacked, epitomized by planes intentionally being flown into the NYC Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and in the fields of Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Our nation was forever changed as a result of that day as we were ushered into an on-going “war on terror.”
What is not as commonly remembered is our 12/7 event.
December 7, 1941 was the day that the United States was attacked as our naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii was bombed and suddenly our nation was ushered into a global war remembered as World War II.
Both 9/11 and 12/7 were pivotal, reality-changing, and paradigm-shifting events in our collective experience as a nation we are still being impacting by them to this day.
At the risk of oversimplification, on 9/11 we went into a defensive mode that we’ve never fully recovered from. To this day, our nation lives under a terror attack alert and we can be ever so thankful for the many men and women who are quietly and mostly behind the scenes diligently seeking to protect us from another 9/11 event.
In contract, on 12/7 our nation went into offensive mode. The bombing of our naval base at Pearl Harbor awoke us a nation and got us off the sidelines. We were stirred to action as we joined the Allies to fight for freedom and democracy.
What followed was a world war that was won, a reconstruction period that rebuilt our former enemies and allies, and in our own nation, the “war machine” that equipped our soldiers was turned into producing the American Dream as we entered decades of prosperity and growth.
To sum it up:
On 9/11 we went into a defensive mode.
On 12/7 we went into an offensive mode.
On 9/11 we counted our scars.
On 12/7 we counted the stars.
Today, as a nation (and world) we are faced, not with a day of infamy, but a year of infamy! 2020, like 9/11 and 12/7, may very well become a code to describe calamity, fear, and uncertain times.
One thing is for sure, every year following, for a long time to come, will be measured against the year 2020.
Bottom line, we are living in one of the most challenging years ever known to our nation and to us as families and individuals. But we have a choice.
We can count our scars, or we can count the stars.
Are there scars? Mostly certainly. There are permanent and painful scars that will forever remind us of loss, hardship, and suffering.
But there are also stars to be counted. We have learned things about ourselves, we have had to grow and change and pray and press on through night. And the amazing thing about night is that it makes the stars clearer.
Chose to focus on the stars.
If there is a God (and there is), good will come out of this. We can be better for having gone through 2020.
A lot of things have ended in 2020, but with every ending, there is also a new beginning. Let’s make sure we’re in it and doing our part to make it a new and better beginning than the last one.
The ONE THING for today: Not every generation is asked to go through something as momentous as a 12/7 or a 9/11 or a 2020. But we have; we had no choice in the matter. However we do have a choice at how we respond. We can count our scars, or we can count the stars. I choose the stars.
Following is a “Saturday Pastor’s Briefing” that I shared with the ministers that I am privileged to serve in the Dakotas and Montana if you care to listen. It goes along well with this blog.