All of us have seen countless pictures from the falling of the Twin Towers and those amazingly courageous rescue workers who rushed to the scene. Several never came home. Many survivors owe their very lives to these people. Indeed, such sacrifice makes these rescue workers true heroes.
We are currently in a unique season where more heroic efforts are being publicized. During Hurricane Harvey we heard of a police officer who put his life on the line to try to help others. Hundreds of volunteers rushed to the hurricane damaged area to help, including the "Cajun Navy," that informal ad-hoc volunteer group composed of private boat owners who assisted in search and rescue efforts. There is even a website portraying “Heroes of Hurricane Harvey.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6873RCZk1Do)
While our nation turned a lot of attention to the impending damage anticipated from Hurricane Irma, we almost bypassed the tragic number of fires out west. There were 172 fires burning in several different states. More than 26,000 firefighters have been fighting those blazes across our western states. Since the beginning of this year, nine firefighters have died (two of them in training) in their efforts to protect us. Danger seems to find heroes.
The unexpected events in life find heroes as well. The massive earthquake in Mexico will likely yield some. Stories will emerge as well in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and perhaps Hurricane Jose. The news may report on dramatic rescues or some selfless act of sacrifice. It was Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address who recognized in the darkest times we could still see “The better angels of our nature.”
There is, however, a broader perspective to be shared on what we might call “the work of heroes.” It is well summarized in another fine inspirational piece penned by Craig Lounsbrough, Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Professional Life Coach. His most recent post pays tribute to heroes, reflecting on the anniversary of our losses on 9/11.
I will borrow his words today for us to consider this broader perspective. Craig writes:
Might we take time to intimately reflect upon the heroes of 9/11 even though they would forgo the title and shy away from any such attention. And as we do, may we raise up the real heroes all around us who repeatedly step in the gap quietly and without pretense. The teacher who comes alongside a troubled student to grant hope to one who has none. The mother who forgoes the dream of her own career in order to abandon herself to the dreams of her children. The first responders who without hesitation walk into the very situations others run from. The businessman who sacrifices a job because sacrificing his ethics is simply too implausible. The victim of injustice who refuses to live as a victim or let injustice define them. The person who feeds the homeless, coaches the team, becomes a father to the fatherless, who stands by their faith even when the scathing criticism of a culture bent on immorality pummels them bloodied and bruised. The everyday man and woman who faces the looming specter of cancer, prays for their neighbors, wrestles with a handicap, fights an addiction, works a second job for a college-bound child, buries a father and cares for a mother.
I do not believe Craig Lounsbrough robs the greatest acts of courage in these words. Instead, he reminds us that heroic work should be painted with a broad brush.
For people of faith, maybe the simple sharing of the Good News may result in a soul headed for eternity. We are, after all, on divine assignment. As the apostle Paul notes, “We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, TLB)
On this anniversary of 9/11, let’s honor and celebrate the work of heroes. It truly is a beautiful thing.
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