The date was September 11, 2002. That day the nation paused to remember the one year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. At the very same time, two unlikely scenarios were working themselves out. One of them you could not possible have known about. The other one—well, the other one is an indescribable tragedy all its own.
In the first scenario, a man and his wife are dressing up for dinner. They leave for their favorite restaurant to spend an enjoyable evening together reminiscing about the past. In the background, the restaurant’s TV set is reviewing the day’s memorial services for the victims of 9/11, but the couple seems oblivious to anyone or anything else. The reason is obvious to anyone who knows them. They are celebrating the anniversary of their wedding on September 11, 1976. Needless to say, that couple was my wife and I.
That same day, September 11, 2002, another event of tremendous proportion was unfolding in the nation. On that day 3,000 families died. On 3,000 occasions—in 3,000 different towns and cities across America—a husband and wife said their final goodbyes. No sirens accompanied these deaths by divorce; no crowds gathered in vast arenas to mourn the victims. These homes simply died. For these families, September 11, 2002 was a day that changed their lives forever.
That there is a family crisis in America is undeniable. More marriages will be dissolved by divorce this year than by death. One third of all live births will occur outside of wedlock. Fifty percent of children in public schools will live in single-parent homes. Fifty percent of couples filing for divorce will have cohabited before marriage. A culture marked by secularism and moral relativism will continue its assault on the American family.
Don’t think for a moment that as my wife and I sipped our coffee and ate our dessert we were oblivious to these facts. We both realize that there is one reason and one reason only that any marriage can last for 26 years. That reason, quite simply, is the grace of God. I am painfully aware of my own shortcomings as a husband and father. But I am also aware that God’s grace has been sufficient to make up for my liabilities. And so it was with unspeakable joy and gladness that on September 11, 2002 my wife and I celebrated God’s faithfulness to us for 26 years.
Did we forget the events of 9/11? Hardly. That September day was a horrific watershed in American history, and it must always be remembered as such. Yet God is glorified when His good gifts are received with thankfulness and joy—His gifts of marriage, of health, of life itself. The family is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children; and failure to acknowledge His gifts in the midst of cultural chaos is surely one of the greatest tragedies that can befall a nation.
Because none of us has any way of knowing what challenges await our nation in the future, I pray that God may grant us strength in our marriages and homes so that we can prepare the coming generation to face life’s trials with courage, faith, and grace. But even as we memorialize the past and prepare for the future, we dare not forget to celebrate the present.
March 16, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.