On September 11, I was in a committee at the General Conference when I received word about the unfolding tragic events in New York City and Washington. I remember having a strange surreal feeling that this was not really happening and then a feeling of sympathy and deep sadness for those affected. We, of course, prayed for the thousands of people affected by this tragedy.
In the 1970s, I spent about seven years serving the church and the people of the metropolitan New York area. While living and working there, I learned to respect and care for the people of that great region and their strong resiliency to challenging problems. When I heard about the attacks, I was reminded that life is very fragile and that it is important that we maintain a close connection with Christ on a daily basis as we share with others our hope for a better world when the great controversy between Christ and Satan is ended at Christ's soon second coming.
I am thankful for the manner in which the Seventh-day Adventist Church was able to assist and minister to so many individuals in New York and Washington D.C. during that difficult time. It is a blessing that this ministry continues in those two important cities and in many other places.
This week marks the 10-year anniversary of that tragedy. Many of us have been forever changed by the pain and suffering we witnessed that day, by the stories we heard and by our own personal loss.
As I look at our church 10 years later, I see a group of dedicated believers who are beacons of peace and justice to the world around them. I see a community of faith alleviating pain and suffering now, but pointing to an earth made new. Together, we long for the day when loss of human life will be a distant memory when Christ puts an end to death, tears and suffering. His second coming and then ultimately the new earth He will create will bring to an end the suffering and sin of this world as the book of Revelation tells us.
On September 11, 2001, we were reminded that our world is a battlefield. Forces of good and evil are at war all around us, and innocent lives are lost. But we know that the hurt will end. Our hope is in our loving God and Savior, who shares our pain and has the solution for the problems we face. What a privilege to read about His plan of salvation in the Bible, the authoritative Word of God.
Whatever the battle -- and don't be discouraged if it appears that evil seems to gain the advantage for the moment -- let us remember that at the end God "will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8).
My hope is that we will continue to be a church that unites in showing God's love to friends and neighbors, in times of joy as well as adversity. It's my hope that amid the memory of tragedy, we are sharing a message of hope as we look forward to Christ's soon return.
Let us all be encouraged and comforted in believing what God said in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Let's renew our personal and church efforts to share that hope with others in words and Christian service to God's glory.
--Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church.