Verbatum Transcript of Billy Graham's Message

Given on the

National Day of Prayer and Remembrance

The National Cathedral

Washington, D. C.

Friday, September 14, 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf

of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this

Day of Prayer and Remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to reffirm our conviction that God cares for us,

whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be.

The Bible says that He’s "the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles."

No matter how hard we try words simply cannot express the horror,

the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this

nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our

history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to

those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be

defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Some day those

responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our

Congress have so forcefully stated.

But today, we especially come together in this service to confess…

our need of God. We've always needed God from the very

beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We're

facing a new kind of enemy. We're involved in a new kind of

warfare and we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible

words are our hope: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever

present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth

give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea"

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God

allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are

asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you

that God understands these feelings that you may have.

We've seen so much on our television, on our--heard on our radio,

stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger.

But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what but what are some of the lessons we can learn?

First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil.

I have been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows

tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the

answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by

faith, that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and

compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is

not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a "mystery." In first

Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old

Testament prophet Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all

things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" He asked that

question, "Who can understand it?" And that’s one reason we each

need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity

and evil, but secondly, it’s a lesson about our need for each other.

What an example New York and Washington have been to the

world these past few days! None of us will ever forget the pictures

of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost

friends and colleagues, or the hundreds of people attending or

standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could

have torn our country apart, but instead, it has united us and we’ve

become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us

apart, it has worked the other way. It’s backlash, it’s backfired.

We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in

a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood

shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang, "God Bless America."

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now -- this event can

give a message of hope -- hope for the present, and hope for the


Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present because I believe

the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation.

One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this

country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told

us in His Word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins

and we're turn to Him and He will bless us in a new way.

But, there is also hope for the future because of God's promises.

As a Christian, I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and

the life to come. And many of those people who died this past

week are in heaven right now, and they wouldn't want to come

back. It's so glorious and so wonderful. And that's the hope for all of

us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in

your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We

never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even

one of those people who got on those planes, or walked into the

World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought

it would be the last day of their lives. They didn’t…It didn't occur

to them. And that's why each of us needs to face our own spiritual

need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us

symbols of the Cross. For the Christian, I'm speaking for the

Christian now, the Cross tells us that God understands our sin and

our suffering, for He took upon Himself in the person of Jesus

Christ our sins and our suffering. And from the Cross, God

declares, "I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and

the pains that you feel. But I love you."

The story does not end with the Cross, for Easter points us beyond

the tragedy of the Cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is

hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil and death, and

hell. Yes, there is hope.

I've become an old man now and I've preached all over the world

and the older I get the more I cling to that hope that I started with

many years ago and began ….and..proclaimed it in many languages

to many parts of the world.

Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in

Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young who had just gone

through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote

from the old hymn, "How Firm a Foundation ... ."

We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the… the steel and

glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on

solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity

of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to

the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet, underneath the

debris, is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth

of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted, "How Firm a

Foundation ... ." Yes, our nation has been attacked, buildings

destroyed, lives lost.

But now we have a choice: whether to implode and disintegrate

emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation -- or, whether

we choose to become stronger through all of this struggle -- to

rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we are in the

process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is

our trust in God. That's what this service is all about and in that faith

we have the strength to endure something as difficult and

horrendous as what we have experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears but also has been a

week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called

prayer meetings and today is a day that they are celebrating not

only in this country but in many parts of the world.

And in the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted

it says:

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God, and will give thee aid;

I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, they righteous, omnipotent hand."

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God

wrapped around us, and will know in our hearts that He will never

forsake us as we trust in Him.

We also know that God is going to give wisdom and courage and

strength to the President and those around him. And this is going

to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory.

May God bless you all.

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