Friday, September 30, 2011

Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

I’ve been sitting here this morning for over an hour, staring at a blank screen. Today is 9/11, and I’m a day late getting this piece scheduled. I have meandered through my Facebook posts, have taken out over 800 emails from my inbox, and am sipping on my second cup of coffee. I’m resorting to stream of consciousness writing because I can’t get the words to come out. They’re locked in my brain somewhere, and I have neither the key nor the combination.

Today is 9/11. 

I should be focused on the significance of this day. However, the only thing I feel is an overwhelming weariness tinged with grief. There are too many obligations, too many responsibilities, and never enough time. And then this specter of past atrocity mists across the landscape and whatever strength I have is vaporized.

I want to pray, for those left to stare into the deep abyss that the collapse of those towers brought. I want to hold up those who died in the Pentagon that day, those that never had a chance when thin-skinned aircraft collided into steel and glass, for the firefighters that went in and never came out, and for a flight of passengers that went down as heroes in a Pennsylvania field who, once recognizing the events that were unfolding, preferred death over submission to evil.

Perhaps part of what has me immobilized today is the recognition that the evil is still out there as blatant (if not more so) than ever before, that ten years of war and the death of our children, our husbands and wives, our mothers and fathers has not made a dent in the number of people that want to kill us or subjugate us. We fight and we fight… and for what?

Today I am overwhelmed with the futility of it all, and I think that’s why I am so numb. Today I have more in common with the son of David who penned Ecclesiastes than with his father who wrote most of the psalms. 

"Meaningless! Meaningless!”
   says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
   Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2)

This writer goes on to express exactly what is in my heart, that “everything is wearisome, more than one can express” (Ecclesiastes 1:8a). 

I feel guilty, because I am a child of God, and I should know that in the end we win. I should know that yes, this world is compromised and that while evil may seem to flourish and abound in more and more places, while the love for God may wax cold in many, many hearts, and while the vulgarity of the sinful nature of our species may become more and more insidious, we are actually only watching remnants of battles, not the outcome of the war.

We’ve already won that through the death and resurrection of Jesus. So I sit here and pray that God will break through the numbness, through the grief, through the weariness. I should not feel this way, knowing what I know. 

And yet…
For everything there is a season,
a right time for every intention under heaven—
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and time to discard,
a time to tear and a time to sew,
a time to keep silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Perhaps today is my time for disengaging from the world. Perhaps the numbness is God’s gift to me to overshadow the grief and despair that lies beneath the surface. Perhaps it’s His way of forcing a rest of sorts upon me, because without that forced rest I would sit here and work and struggle and cry, never allowing my mind to free itself from the endless tasks I have before me or the images of that day ten years ago that haunt me. 

These passages seem to tell me that I have His permission to feel the negative with good, that it is all a part of this life that I live, and all equally valid expressions of the human experience. Perhaps this weariness is a not-so-subtle reminder that I can do nothing without the strength that He gives me to carry on. 

Today, I will weep and mourn. I will sit in silence and think about the futility of it all. I will ponder not only the significance of this day, but the direction of my life and if I’m where I need to be. Am I on the path God has chosen for me, or am I on a path that is of my own making? It’s okay to think about these things, to work through them and around them, so long as I don’t allow myself to remain in this spot.

And then tomorrow, I will start again, going back to my Father’s work of healing and restoration. For it is when I look through His eyes that I understand there is nothing futile at all in this life He has given me to live.


  1. Oh, Hanne! Thank you for baring your heart. I'm mourning 9/11 all over again.

    I just finished reading Ecclesiastes and I'm trying to understand (once again) the purpose of that Book. I depresses me to no end. MEANINGLESS!

    I'm glad for your last paragraph. No - it's not all meaningless. God gave me this day - I WILL be glad and rejoice and be thankful for it, and keep on keepin' on with His Kingdom work.

    Bless you, Sister!

  2. Sublime expression of a beautiful heart.

  3. What beautiful thoughts, Hanne! I think you expressed so well the weariness that we sojourners often experience as we pass through so many of these seemingly meaningless days. Thank you for this.

  4. Hanne, thank you for sharing your heart. I'm thankful that when we journey through a numbing thought process we can end up at His throne of grace.

  5. I hear you! My post for OctoberJoE post was was written on 9/11. Such an emotional time!

  6. For the second time in 8 hours God spoke to me with words I needed to hear. Only God could arrange the words, the author, and the day to line up with exactly the needs I have right now.
    You are such a gift, Hanne.

  7. Such a powerful piece, and such honesty. We've all been there. Great stuff, my dear.

  8. I think you saw into my heart.

    and guess what my Scripture reading is for today? Ecc 1-6. I've been putting it off but I think I'm ready for it now.

    Thank you.

  9. Hanne--I too felt such pain. Your words echo mine (except I could barely get them out.) Eventually I got them onto my blog. Just took a while. Thanks for baring your soul and expressing what many of us struggled with.

  10. Hanne, thank you for pouring out the sadness of your heart in such a beautiful way. God said not to fret ourselves because of evildoers, but sometimes that's really hard not to do when so many people are hurt.

  11. That dreadful day 10 years ago is a somber place to be, especially with the visual reminders we face. It's important to remember and to pray for those still grieving and to grieve over so much hatred. God understands that we can be overwhelmed at times. Thank you for sharing so openly. God bless.



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