“Let’s Roll”: Remembering 9/11 and Spiritual PTSD

“Let’s Roll”: Remembering 9/11 and Spiritual PTSD September 11, 2021



Perpetual questioning of a negative situation triggers pervasive anxiety All of us are searching for something in our present to help us make sense of our past. Wishing something had never happened doesn’t solve the puzzle but perpetuates the darkness to become pervasive.


On the world stage in 2002 our nation was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan searching for the allusive Osama Bin Laden.


Back home in my day to day trials, I was settling very quickly into a pervasive depression I couldn’t shake. I would call this “Spiritual PTSD.”


A few years ago my family visited the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania


There were scores of people there and we took the walk down the path that directed our eyes to a 20,000 pound boulder that marked the 50 foot hole the airplane had made when it went down. We walked into the memorial and back and forth walls of memorabilia from that day, news clippings, articles found at the crash scene, newscasters recounting the events of the day, Presidents of the United States addressing this heroic day. And then you walk up to these phones, pick up the receiver and listen to passengers on Flight 93 leaving answering machine messages for their loved ones. It was bone chilling. You didn’t have to try to cry or conjure emotion. It flowed. You felt it. Their story is our story.  It is the story of courage in the face of evil.


One of those who made calls was passenger, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, she was flying home from her grandmother’s funeral. She made eight calls to her husband from row 23 seats DEF, she never got him on the phone. She left this message, “There has been a little problem with the plane, but I am fine and comfortable-for now.”


They knew they were going to die and that it probably wouldn’t end well, and yet, they knew they had to do something to try and save others.


We know we are going to die, someday.


Is that not Jesus’ story? Is that not our story? A story of redemption amidst great sacrifice and imminent death.


Tears filled my eyes as I listened to the sobering messages.


It takes courage to sacrifice your life, but it takes more courage to live when you know you are going to die. One of the great leaders on that plane that day was Todd Beamer who went to Wheaton College. He led the passengers and phone dispatcher in praying Psalm 23. The favor of the Lord was with him. He led the fight with his famous words “let’s roll” to take Flight 93 to the ground before the terrorist could fulfill their plan and crash the plan into either the White House or Congress. These words “let’s roll” became the battle cry of our leadership and nation. Their heroism saved tens of thousands of people because on any given day there were upwards of 20-30k people in Congress.


A guide at the grounds that lives near the memorial said that nine people saw the plane go down. The plane was moving at a speed of 563 miles per hour. One eyewitness said the plane was inverted and flying upside down before it crashed. The passengers were fighting the terrorist and was forcing it to the ground. The eyewitness said the plane was so close to the ground, he could see the grass reflecting in the metal of the plane. When the plane hit the ground it disintegrated immediately, killing all 40 of the passengers and the 4 terrorist. It took weeks to comb through the debris and try to piece the sorrow of this event together.


In the midst of the wreckage, a miracle occurred, they found the credit card the terrorist used to put all this together. It was fully intact and it provide the necessary link for the United States to connect the dots.


As my friend, Jimmy Mellado, President of Compassion International says, “All people need is a little hope.” And I believe God gave us that little hope on that day as a nation.


I often think about all the people who lost loved ones on that day. One of the displays at the memorial was titled: “Loss of Life” and it said this…


The death toll from the planes’ impact and the collapse of the Towers is staggering. Flight 11 hit floors 93-99 of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, killing all on board and 1,470 people in and around the building. Flight 175 crashed into floors 77-85 of the South Tower, killing everyone on board and 695 people in and around the building. Additionally, 441 first responders were killed at the World Trade Center site. Flight 77 hit the west façade of the Pentagon, the impact killed all on board and 125 people in the building.


In addition to these deaths, 40 passengers lost their lives on Flight 93 that day.


The tragedies of life unfortunately are not a respecter of persons. The sorrows create a silent but very loud shame that all of us carry inside ourselves because of circumstances in our lives that we don’t understand and can’t explain. We can’t help but wonder like Job, “God do you see?”


It is in the midst of these times we develop Spiritual PTSD. This is when I learned sometimes obedience to God’s voice feels wrong when the results seem negative.


Spiritual PTSD will trigger at least three things in you: 1) You question if God cares, 2) You doubt your ability to hear God’s voice in your everyday life, 3) You start convincing yourself your faith can’t survive the darkness.


If we stop here, the Enemy wins.


In the darkness we must keep praying and then when we least expect it, a breakthrough like the credit card will come.


Just a little hope!


Let us be reminded of Todd’s example.


What are you waiting for?


“Let’s roll!”



Pastor Kelly

Excerpt taken from “The Mystery of 23: God Speaks” book.

Browse Our Archives