It was April 19, 1995. I was in the hospital after giving birth to my second son the day before. I was thoroughly enjoying the quiet peace that came from once again sleeping on my back, getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep without having to go to the bathroom, and introducing myself to my adorable, tiny newborn son. I hadn’t turned on the television in my room and had yet to receive visitors that morning. I was blissfully unaware of the tragic events that had unfolded only hours before.
My good friend Lisa came to visit my new son and me early that afternoon. She was surprised I wasn’t glued to the television set when she arrived, mesmerized by the events of the day. I had no idea that a man named Timothy McVeigh had loaded up a rental Ryder truck full of bomb materials (fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals) and had detonated it in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City at 9:02 a.m. At the time, authorities feared that hundreds of people had been killed, but they were still painstakingly digging through the rubble of the building to search for bodies.
But the most excruciating part was hearing that a daycare center was located near the front and center of the blast radius. Eventually it was known that 168 people lost their lives, including 19 children. Hundreds more were injured.
It was more information than I could take in. I turned the television off after just a few minutes of hearing sketchy details and seeing the grotesque carnage of the crumbling building. I felt like I was trespassing upon a multitude of other people’s grief.
Just an hour before, my perception of the world had been so amazing. Basking in the afterglow of giving birth to my second healthy son, I had no idea that the rest of the world was rocking on its axis as news of this terrible tragedy spread. Contemplating the horrific events, I wondered if the world was too cruel a place in which to protect and care for my two small sons.
I held my newborn close and wept for the innocence that had been lost that day. Many families would never again hold their babies. Countless people were missing a family member, friend, or co-worker. And a piece of the collective good in the world had been forfeited on that heartrending Wednesday morning.
But somehow the world kept spinning. Life went on, even after the unspeakable tragedy that had occurred. Funerals were held for the victims, the building was razed, the conspirators were caught, and a memorial was built to commemorate the lives lost. And my sons continued to grow healthy and strong, even though many people wondered if the world as we knew it was falling apart.
Unfortunately, many national and international tragedies have occurred since that day, including natural disasters, famine, genocide, war, school shootings, and horrific atrocities. Eighteen years have come and gone, full of many joys and much sadness alike. And the world keeps spinning.
And somehow we have learned that life goes on, amidst the grieving and coping and loss. And we have been reminded again and again that although sorrow comes calling, it doesn’t last forever. Hope springs up through the rubble. New life emerges from the ashes. And we are met with a future full of events we have no idea how to anticipate.
Once again we have to anchor our hope: Not hope in a world that is fragile and seemingly crumbling around us. But we hope in our God who remains stable, sure, and caring throughout the journey. He will help us as we call to him, the only true anchor for our souls.