Twenty years have passed since 9/11.

It’s good for us to remember where we’ve been.
The times we suffered.
And the times we’ve seen God’s love in action.

To help us remember, Former FBI agent Jackie Albrecht shares about her personal experience at Ground Zero: 

“The devastation is still so vivid for me. I’ll never forget the sounds: the constant roar of the bulldozers. Rescue workers yelling. Groans coupled with sighs and sobs. The echoes of grief and suffering.

The smoldering steel heated the place like a furnace. And the heat amplified the odor of diesel fuel and burnt flesh. You couldn’t scrub the smell out of your clothes or your hair. I can still smell it even now, as I remember.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I served as a grief counselor at Ground Zero. Even though I was a seasoned FBI agent, my training couldn’t have prepared me for something like that.

Day and night thousands of Americans worked together, clearing away the mountain of wreckage. Rescuers used rescue dogs to search for people who might still be alive beneath the twisted metal. But they recovered very few. Later, the dogs just searched for bodies.

As I counseled tired, ash-laden workers, I listened to them express their grief and anger. Some felt guilty for being alive. Some wished they had died, too.

They kept asking me, “Where is God?” I simply replied, “God is here with us.”

I didn’t tell them that because I was supposed to.

I said it because I saw God’s love at Ground Zero, vividly.

I glimpsed God’s hand in the citizens who surrounded the perimeter each day, waving posters, American flags and applauding the workers as they entered the area.


I tasted God’s goodness in the fabulous meals provided by a famous NYC chef. Before 9/11, his restaurant had a 2-year waiting list. I saw God’s kindness in a small group of movie stars who came and worked long hours, without any press or fanfare. 

I saw God’s love at Ground Zero in the children’s drawings and notes that decorated the workers’ cafeteria. I saw His care in the unknown person who placed fresh flowers daily in the rest areas. And in those who placed flags and notes on the Ground Zero fence.

I witnessed God’s compassion in the NYC firefighters who worked all-night shifts and attended funerals during the day.


I felt God’s strength in the hardworking dump truck drivers who slept in their cabs, with their heads resting on the steering wheel, as they waited day and night to haul debris away.

I sensed God’s power at Ground Zero when I saw a steel worker climb on top of the wreckage and place an American flag there. He risked his safety to give us hope on a day we had none.


I heard God’s love in the haunting sound of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” at nearby funerals, each day I was there. 

The terrorist attacks on September 11th affected every American. Illusions of safety were shattered. Families were torn apart. I witnessed unimaginable grief.

It was one of our nation’s darkest hours—and mine.

But now, I feel so privileged to have served there.

I saw God’s love at Ground Zero, working in the midst of pain and sorrow like I never have before or since. And I learned that the Lord not only works outwardly, He also works from within the hearts of people. I saw God rise up against great evil, and send His love through people, using their hands and feet and hearts.

People loved unselfishly. They served tirelessly. Thousands came together as one—as if they were inspired from above.

And I believe they were.

Those scenes will remain in my heart forever. I hope they will remain in every American’s heart. I learned that no matter what happens, God is still at work. All you have to do is look for Him.”  Jackie Albrecht, former FBI agent

***

Now we’re facing another type of attack. A deadly pandemic that seems unending. People are sick. Some are dying. Even children are suffering.

It’s enough to make you lose hope.

But it helps to remember how God has worked in the past. This means He is at work now. And He will work in the future, for He does not change.

You can even see God’s love within this pandemic, if you look for it. You can see His kindness in the hands of nurses caring for patients in the ICU. You can glimpse His courage in the school children who mask up and go on with life. You can witness His compassion in friends who encourage those who are sick.

I know because I’ve seen it. Recently Covid-19 invaded our house.

People brought chicken soup. Many called and prayed for us daily. Some left little gifts on our porch. Others made patio visits. It was humbling, but so beautiful.

In them, I saw the love of God, shining brightly. 

It reminded me again how God works in both good times and bad. And even when death and destruction invade, His purpose will stand. His love will rise up within the hearts of people, just like it did after 9/11.

I want His love to rise up within me, also. To be used in His mighty work on earth.

I hope you want the same.

As we remember 9/11, let’s pray that the flame of God’s love might shine more brightly within us.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”   2 Cor. 4:7-9.