Love and Comfort Out of Tragedy

By Nancy Barter

As we remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we're sharing this article, which was originally published in The Redeemer Report in September 2012.

What a year it’s been. There’s a clear line of demarcation in each of our lives: the pre- versus the post- September 11th reality – and there’s nothing we can do to change this. What a strange and overwhelming feeling of powerlessness this realization brings, and yet, having been forced to confront it, our lives go on, in some ways as before and in other ways indelibly altered.

I am blessed, for God has shown me His grace and mercy as I never could have imagined in the course of the past 12 months. The mystery of His abundant love has become ever more poignant because I’ve experienced it as a direct result of the deepest despair and brokenness. We parted with a kiss on the Union Square subway platform at around half past eight that morning. Jason was heading to his new job at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center; I was heading to my office in Soho. He must have made it to his desk moments before the plane struck the building. That June, Jason had moved to New York to pursue our relationship. A young man who loved God and strove always to emulate Christ in his love for and service of others, he was a prince among men.

The mystery of His abundant love has become ever more poignant because I’ve experienced it as a direct result of the deepest despair and brokenness.

A lifetime of postulation could never provide me with an answer as to why his life was among the many so tragically lost that morning. In the aftermath of Jason’s death, I have experienced many a dark day, and ironically, God has used this darkness to make real to me His promise to work “all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but until all hope of Jason still being alive was gone, I had never encountered one of those ‘things’ that is so intrinsically bad that it forces one to question whether it could be possible for God to work it for good. But through Jason’s horribly unjust and untimely death, I’ve come to know God as my Holy Comforter and Great Healer with an intimacy that before I’d only understood in an abstract way.

For most of my adult life, I have staunchly resisted involving myself too closely with the body of believers. The reasons for this were misguided and, I now know, destructive. My pride and independence were Satan’s greatest tools in keeping me from experiencing, through God’s people, the most remarkable glimpses of Him. But this year, too weak to resist it, He has blessed me with a new understanding and appreciation of His body, the church. Through prayers, good counsel, empathy and love acted out, God’s character and presence have become very real to me, and my soul has been succored.

Each time the darkness has seemed too great a weight to bear, the showers of His blessings have poured over me – blessings too numerous to list here. And His work is just beginning. My healing is not complete, but His body is alive and well and I am an active part of it: this is the only real antidote to the impotence that threatened to conquer me after September 11th. Coming to know Him intimately is bringing me the best kind of healing, healing in action.

Other Fall 2021 Articles