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Moments… Normal, Exceptional, and Tragic


Normal, Exceptional, and Tragic 


Life is made up of so many different types of moments. Some are normal everyday kind of moments like studying for a test, going for a morning jog, playing video games after school, or another day at the office. Normal moments typically don’t feel like they carry a lot of weight or significance, though normal moments managed will probably impact our futures as much as anything else. Then there are exceptional moments. These are moments that stand out in the picture gallery of our minds– the highlight reels of our lives. Moments like falling in love or getting married, graduating from college or getting that first job, and of course becoming a follower of Jesus would fit into this category. All that goes under the ‘exceptional’ category seems to help us answer the question why am I here and what am I supposed to accomplish with my life? 


Yep! Most of life falls under normal and exceptional moments…but, unfortunately there is another category. 


There are moments that can only be described as tragic, and there are two types of tragic moments. First there are personal tragedies that effect…well…us and our families, close friends, or community. Tragic moments usually start with shock and are shortly followed with tears. Tragedies of the personal kind include the sudden death of a loved one, a divorce, abuse, or the type of news from a doctor that alters the trajectory of life. And then there are tragedies that impact more than a family or community, they have a consequence on the collective conscience of a generation or even a nation. These events end up in history books and movies, memorials are built and days are set aside to remember what happened and memorialize those impacted. 


Some reading this weren’t even alive or were not old enough to remember the earth-shattering tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. For those who are old enough, you can recall exactly where you were and how you felt that day in history. It was supposed to be a morning filled with the normal moments: the comings and goings of people taking a flight and those going to work at the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. And then ‘normal’ turned ‘tragic’ with four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. Planes were used as bombs and certain buildings as targets to inflict the maximum amount of carnage and consequence. 


So much has happened since that fateful day: war, rebuilding efforts, elections, Olympics, The World Cup, and an entire new generation has been born (Gen Z). And let’s be honest, since 9/11 it feels as if we’ve been in a more constant state of conflict. Something changed that day about how we view current history. The good guys don’t win and return home to live the rest of their lives in peace and quiet. Now, the good guys fight to win, but then have to stay diligent because the war is never fully won in a post 9/11 world. Which brings me to this: How should a Christian think in such times? Certainly, we should never forget! And always show honor to those who serve and sacrifice for our freedom! Maybe the question should be asked this way: How should the Christian live in the normal moments that are overshadowed with the national tragedy moment that has changed…well…our nation? Let me suggest a few answers: 


  • Live with a sacred sense of optimism because “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). 
  • Be grateful for our nation, without putting our faith in nationalism because “Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD—the people he has chosen to be his own possession!” (Ps. 33:12) 
  • Know that our citizenship in heaven determines our temporary citizenship on earth because “as citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27) and “great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” (Luke 12:48b, The Message) 


Much more could, and probably should be said, but on this day, but for now let us rest in the fact that all our hope is in Jesus. And that while God doesn’t erase the tragic moments in the past, he can redeem them. How? He makes it possible for us to live in the everyday normal moments with a spirit of optimism, gratitude and motivation.    


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