|By Dr. James C. Denison
President, The Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
November 6, 2009
Topic: hope in grief
Tragedy at Fort Hood
The war has come home. Fort Hood is home to 52,000 Army personnel. Located halfway between Austin and Waco, Texas, it has lost more troops in Iraq than any other base. Now it has lost 12 more. As you know, an Army psychiatrist about to be deployed to overseas combat killed 12 soldiers yesterday afternoon and wounded 31 others. Initial reports said that he was killed by police; later we learned that he has survived and is in stable condition.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan was born in Virginia to Jordanian parents. Today’s New York Times reports that he is single, and that he has listed no religious preference. He was apparently distraught about his upcoming deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Yesterday afternoon, he took two handguns to a deployment center where soldiers receive last-minute medical attention and instructions before they are shipped out overseas. A few moments later, as President Obama said last night, the “horrific outburst of violence” unfolded.
We have learned again that no place on our fallen planet is safe. The Pentagon and Twin Towers became killing fields eight years ago; now an Army base intended to shelter our soldiers will be marked forever by this tragedy. If a military installation cannot protect its own, who of us is secure this morning?
This is a day to grieve with suffering families traumatized beyond words. It is a day to pray for them and for those who are walking with them through this valley of heartache. And it is a day to remember that life is fragile and brief, but eternity is secure.
Paul’s testimony is our model: “We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
This time yesterday, none of us knew that Fort Hood would lead this morning’s news. Today is the dot before the line, the moment before eternity begins. The best way to begin this Friday is to surrender it to the God who redeems all we entrust to him.
Last night, Janet and I were discussing the Fort Hood tragedy and she showed me a statement which she included in an upcoming Bible study. Esteemed biblical scholar William Barclay: “The only way to get our values right is to see, not the beginning, but the end of the way, to see things, not in the light of time, but in the light of eternity.”
How do you see things this morning?