JOY Stories



He is always good

Most people can pinpoint a few days of their life in which they can recount every detail down to what they were wearing. For me, one of those days is September 11, 2001. That Tuesday morning started as any other day in seventh grade. I went to our weekly chapel service after my first class. On the way, I remember walking through the office and overhearing some of the staff talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. With no concept of terrorism, I shrugged it off, simultaneously thinking that was where my dad worked but also it had to be just a tiny plane that was unfortunately off course. I went about my morning completely forgetting this interaction. I continued my walk to the chapel and settled into a seat next to one of my close friends. As we began to sing, I leaned over and whispered to her. I then felt a tap on my shoulder. I knew that my ultimate fear was coming to fruition: I was getting in trouble.

The shock of getting in trouble for talking to my neighbor clouded my mind. I was passed to another teacher, to our Dean of Students, and then to our principal. I found myself being escorted by another teacher out of the building, and I then realized that this certainly was not all for whispering during chapel. The teacher tried to make small talk as we walked towards the elementary building, the building where my mom taught. The side door swung open, and we walked in just as my older sister and a teacher entered the hall from the opposite end. My sister was sitting in her AP United States History class when she was sent to our mom’s classroom. Befuddled, we found my mom’s classroom empty, void of the third graders who were typically in their desks. I saw my mother distraught, without words, and realized that getting in trouble was not even close to my ultimate fear.

My mom explained that a commercial plane, not the tiny private jet I had envisioned, had hit the World Trade Center. My dad had always traveled for work, and he’d called the night before to tell us he was on the way to New York City, catching the last flight out of Dallas to be at the World Trade Center for a meeting early Tuesday morning. That was the last we’d heard from him, and we were unable to get in touch with him. As our worst fears materialized, we heard news of the other events of that day. In those moments, the world that had seemed so safe my entire life crumbled.

Standing in my mother’s classroom, I was faced with a reality I could have never imagined. We prayed and prayed that we’d hear from my dad, that somehow everything would be alright. But we knew there was no guarantee. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your understanding. What was my understanding? That all signs show a horrific reality? That the Lord is still sovereign? In those moments, I recalled truths that I’d learned from a young age. And I had to wrestle with those truths. What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. What does that look like in times of severe uncertainty? How do we enjoy God when life is turned upside down? God is good, all of the time. How, then, do we think when our circumstances seem to contradict this? All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. But what about now? How does this fit together?

I had to remind myself that the Lord is good, faithful, and sovereign. But His goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty do not always translate into comfort, happiness, and predictability. It promises the alternative: amid a chaotic, fallen world, we have hope. We serve a God who is fully sovereign, and He loves us fully. What a beautiful cradle that is – a cradle of comfort when the world is dark. That day, I was faced with the reality that we were in control of nothing. I had to remind myself that the Lord remains the same regardless of the outcome. If by some miracle my father was alive and well, He is good. If not, He is still good.

Finally, later that day, we heard from my dad. In a twist of events that can only be explained by the Lord’s sovereignty, he had missed his flight to LaGuardia. (And let me just say, he is not one to ever miss a flight.) His plane was in the air when everything happened which explained why we were unable to get in touch with him. That night when he finally returned home, and even in the weeks, months, and years that followed, I struggled with deep theological questions. It’s easy for me to be tempted to believe that my present circumstances reflect the changing character of the Lord… that sweet outcomes show His goodness and dark days say otherwise. But the Lord is steadfast, there is no variation or shadow of change in Him. He is always operating out of His goodness, regardless of our perspective. Always. He is good.

Photos for Katie


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