We’ve all heard it said that the Word of God is mighty, all-powerful and everlasting. But when horrific tragedy hits in instances like 9/11, many find it difficult to hold firm to that Truth. Even as Christians, we often question how is it that a loving God would allow such evil and mass chaos?
Though we may lack the understanding of God’s ways in extracting beauty from this broken world, it is quite awe-inspiring when He sends us an undeniable message of hope amidst the devastation.
Such was the case when one firefighter was sifting through the rubble on Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. In March of 2002, he was with a crew sorting through the remnants of the south tower when he made an unthinkable discovery: a Bible fused to a chunk of steel.
Photographer Joel Meyerowitz was taking pictures of the wreckage in New York City when a fireman came running to him with an incredible find: a page from the Bible melted into a piece of heart-shaped steel.
Meyerowitz, the author of “Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive“, was totally speechless when his eyes fell upon the Bible verse exposed on the surface of what he called “heart-shaped” steel.
It wasn’t just any page of the Bible, it part of the Sermon on the Mount. And while most of the page was marred, right in the middle one of the only parts still clearly readable was Christ’s radical teaching on retaliation.
Retaliation: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
So many chapters. So many verses. But these were the words — from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the Gospel of Matthew — found permanently exposed at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. The pages of the Bible in which they were printed had fused to a chunk of steel as the World Trade Center collapsed, to be found only months later.
A firefighter found the fragment in March 2002, under the Tully Road, a temporary truck route that covered the last remnants of the south tower. He called out to the photographer, who happened to be nearby.
“This shredded, burned and rubble-covered Bible came to me from the loving hands of a fireman who knew that I was the record keeper of ground zero,” Mr. Meyerowitz said in an e-mail from Italy, where he now lives.
“My astonishment at seeing the page that the Bible was open to made me realize that the Bible’s message survives throughout time,” he said, “and in every era we interpret its teachings freshly, as the occasion demands.”
This really touched Meyerowitz. “Of all the pages of the Bible it would be open to,” he said, “that was remarkable.”
It totally mesmerizes me that amidst the burning destruction of 9/11, this fragile yet powerful piece of parchment was able to endure and send a lasting message to us all:
Our fleshly nature urges us to repay evil for evil, but God calls us to press on in forgiveness and love, while leaving vengeance to Him.
What an amazing God-breathed message for us all to remember in regard to 9/11 and all of life’s tragedies that we may face… May this word be seared on our hearts as securely as this page was fused to steel.
In 2010, Meyerowitz donated the incredible artifact to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.