Overcoming Evil With Good
I wasn’t alive when President Kennedy was assassinated. I don’t remember the Challenger tragedy (I was three). But I do remember the exact moment I heard about the Twin Towers being struck on Sept. 11, 2001. I was in my first year of undergrad at Northern Arizona University and remember sitting of the floor of my dorm room for hours trying to convince myself that this was some sort of mistake. Though thousands of miles away, it felt as if it was happening in Flagstaff. It was that gut-wrenching, that earthshaking.
In a way it was happening in Flagstaff. It was happening everywhere in our nation. Tears and confusion set in.
It was what happened next that changed me most though. It was the first time I, as a young adult, saw people really come together. People who never had been to church flocked through the doors and found community with complete strangers and solace from the words of pastors they never valued prior. Neighbors came together to support each other and communities were attentive caring for each other.
In the aftermath of what took place on 9/11, I saw the words of scripture being lived out. In Romans, it says, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good.” This passage is painted on the wall of our teen center at PPC, it is a constant reminder to our teens and to their leaders that the world is filled with bad people doing bad things, but that reality shouldn’t imprison us. The way to fight it is to live as God wants us to live — to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I saw that in the aftermath of 9/11, I saw people reaching out to each other, loving each other, and turning to God.Sadly, as time has passed the shock of what happened seems to have worn off; anxiety has risen, intolerance has peaked, and the support that initially seemed to be overflowing dissipated. Instead of battling evil with good, we turned to fear.The days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, gave me hope. They opened my eyes to what our nation could be like that seemed a little bit closer to what God might have in mind. As we remember the anniversary of that tragic day, my prayer is that we can honor those who died that day and those that have died since by being committed to not letting fear and anxiety to rule us, but to live the words of scripture and overcome evil by doing good. God is in our midst, and we would be deceiving ourselves if we believed that we do not disappoint God occasionally, but we can be confident that daily God is working against evil in the world by making good come of the bad, and inspiring people join in God’s work of creating good in a broken world.
The entry is one in a series of reflections for prayer, meditation, and thinking in preparation for a special Gathering for Reflection, Discussion and Prayer in response to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (and all that has come after that date) on Sept. 7. This event will be led by the pastors and held in the Pinnacle Chapel at 7 p.m. on that Wednesday. We hope that you will join us on Sept. 7.