Twelve years ago, I was a young twenty-something heading to work as a secretary at a small law office, running late as was my tendency back then. Scanning the dial for a morning jam to wake me up, I heard a radio announcer talking about a skyscraper on fire. Still half asleep, I thought it must be the L & C Tower in downtown Nashville. No big deal, I supposed. Nashville’s finest was on the job. As I rushed through office door and slung my purse down on my desk, I noticed my boss and his wife standing in front of the TV. That was completely out of character for my employer, a lawyer/CPA in his late sixties who worked practically every day of his entire life, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter included. He reserved TV watching during office hours for tornado warnings, presidential debates, congressional hearings and matters of national security. Something big must be happening.

It was New York. The World Trade Center. A building I had toured just five years earlier on a Christmastime trip with Granny Grey to the Big Apple to celebrate my 18th birthday.

We didn’t work and the phone never rang as we sat glued to the television trying to figure out what had happened. And then, out of nowhere the second plane hit. I can still feel the complete and utter shock that overtook me and hear the sounds of our horrified gasps as we realized what was happening. We were under attack.

I don’t remember crying at that moment. That would come later. My twenty-three year old mind could not comprehend what I was seeing, live footage from ground zero now being shown by the news stations. Periodically, you heard a thud, something large hitting the metal awnings of the tower plaza and saw what appeared to be large objects of debris falling from the towers. One of the announcers realized it was people. People who woke up that morning, made a pot of coffee, put on their business suits, grabbed the morning paper on the way out the door and headed in to work just like countless times before. People who stayed up too late watching Monday night football but made it to the office on time despite the fact. People who showered at the gym after a morning workout, munching a granola bar, just barely making the elevator up. People who hugged their kids as they pushed them out the door to school and kissed their spouses reminding them to pick up milk on the way home that afternoon. For the last time. The last touch. The last words.

We sat blank stares watching the news reports. Then, without warning, the tower began to fall amid a cloud of rubble and dust. I was frozen in fear, in shock and in sadness. The falling building seemed to collapse in slow motion. I don’t remember any words being spoken. There was nothing that could be said.

Over the next several days and weeks, my faith in God was shaken. Why did God let this happen? Why these people? Why that day? Why New York? Why not me?

There were no answers then. And, I don’t have any today. Instead, I have security knowing God is faithful, when I can’t feel him working in my life, when it feels like he’s not present and hope is gone, when it seems like I’m all alone and no one cares. God was there that day even in such darkness. With the firefighters planting Old Glory in the midst of the smoldering ruins, with the congregations across the country gathering for prayer that night, with the volunteers working tirelessly for days desperately seeking signs of life at ground zero. He was there, then. And, he still is.

May God continue to comfort our nation and the families of those lost that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.