The day I thought I lost my husband

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Recollections of September 11, 2001

“Fear not.” It is the command most repeated in scripture. “Fear not.” We need to be reminded on an almost daily basis. God knows you. God cares for you. God is capable of protecting and providing.

Five years after I left Wheaton College I married an Army Special Forces officer. Later I began to struggle with mini panic attacks. I was deluged with fears that I would lose my husband. Every parachute jump, every deployment to another country, every late night phone call raised my stress level.

A wise friend intervened, telling me, “You must fight these fears – all fears are based on a lie. Find out what lies you have believed and replace them with truth.” Indeed fear is a terrible thing. Fear robs us of our joy and peace, destroys our spiritual growth, frustrates God’s plans for us, opens the door for the enemy, and wastes our time! I searched to identify the lies that had invaded my thinking and I worked to replace those lies with truth. Verses on God’s love and concern for me, His sovereignty, His protection, and His provision covered my refrigerator door.

Later my husband relocated to the Pentagon. September 11, 2001 was his second week of work. After the plane crash friends began calling to see if he was ok and I struggled to remain calm while waiting for news. We had not even unpacked our television yet. I sat down on the bed and opened my Bible to one of the verses I had studied earlier – Deuteronomy 32:39 “There is no God besides me. I put to death and I bring life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” As I waited for news I was reminded again of God’s sovereignty, His love, and His promise of provision. I was strangely calm.

The call finally came several hours later – my husband was fine.  He had been underground when the plane hit and they had evacuated to the parking lot where the threat of more planes created havoc.  He would later walk several miles home because his truck was cordoned off in the impact zone. He was fine, but how awful it was to grieve with others who suffered burns (Brian Birdwell, from our church) or the loss of a spouse (Lisa Beamer, a Wheaton alum, whose husband Todd went down with Flight 93).  

I was grateful for lessons learned earlier that year about fighting fear-inducing lies with truth. I found peace.  I also learned that God does not always spare us from harm or loss, but He is good and faithful through it all. The truths of God’s character are timeless, and they have kept us sane through many dangers, toils, and snares.

My 10 month old daughter and I welcomed him home with open arms that night, and I hated it when he went back to work the next morning while the Pentagon was still burning.  “We’re going to war,” he said and I was reminded to never take for granted something as simple as a husband coming home from work.

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