When Tragedy Strikes
NCW 67, March-April 2000
This last week has been one of great soul searching for me as I have been the witness to two terrible tragedies that have struck devoted Christian homes. The first was of a family in which father and mother were involved in a traffic accident and both had their necks broken. They are now confined to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives and are dependent on others both for themselves and for their little children. I have been in deep shock ever since. The second story is about a young Christian man deeply in love with a young Christian woman who were planning to marry. She was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver and he has been left emotionally devastated to the point that he is questioning whether there is truly a loving God in control. This article is my response to this man. His letter is in italics.
Thank you for sharing what is, sadly, an all too often occurrence. I feel for you, truly, not only in your loss but in your theological questions. They are not dissimilar to the ones asked by Job who who all his children and wealth. I cannot honestly claim to have all the answers to your dilemma though I believe I do have some.
I am a young man of 19 years. I have been raised as a Christian and until recently have had a very strong faith. Recently i have suffered a great loss. My girlfriend was killed in a car incident by a drunken driver around 4 months ago. I have still not recovered from this. She was one of the most kindest and most generous people you could ever hope to meet, a strong Christain as well.
After her tragic death I lost all faith in God for the obvious reason.........WHY? Surely if we are good Christians God should protect us. Why did he forsake her. Please dont tell me that God works in mysterious ways, even if this is true then whats the point in worshippping someone/thing that does work in this cruel and unjust way. This answer is basiclly a cop out!!
To begin with, we must never forget the larger perspective. This life is but a small part of the overall story. I don't know if you believe in a spiritual pre-existence (not reincarnation) as I and many other evangelicals do but this, together with the long eternities stretching out before us, has an important part to play in answering such questions. I lost my first wife - worse, perhaps, the Lord told me in a personal revelation that I would lose her and when. Trusting in that knowledge was tough and indeed I forgot it until the tragic event occurred.
There are many reasons we are born here and many reasons why people are taken out before their time. The most important reason is, of course, accepting Christ in faith and not sight/knowledge. True love is only manifested in trust/faith. God knows the strengths and weaknesses of our hearts and how we will react in different situations. But we don't necessarily until our hearts have been taken to the point of tragedy, or some other event, which reveals just how strong or weak we are. Job was blessed because he would not deny the Lord inspite of the taunts of his wife who seemingly lost faith. He would not lay the blame on God. Indeed, God refused to answer his question but instead gave him a vision of his own weakness and imperfection so that he could move on. Job was rewarded with even more than he had before, plus a heavenly inheritance.
If your friend was taken by a drunken driver then it was time for her to leave. To deny that is to deny God's sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience and, yes, His love too. If you and she were destined to be man and wife then nothing will stop that - not even death - and she will be waiting for you across the veil of mortality for your reunion. The more important question was this: WHY did God take her there and then? This has to be answered on two levels:
(1) What did that mean for HER? It meant, firstly, that she was not supposed to be here on this world any longer. Has she been denied the blessings of experiencing a full earthly life? No, because God promises in Scripture that all who die before their natural time will return in the Millennium and grow to maturity. Thus there must be aa greater need for her in heaven than here.
(2) What does is mean for YOU? Firsly, it has revealed your weakness in being all too willing to blame God for your unhappiness. That is not to deny your unhappiness, for I too mourned long and hard for my first wife, and whilst I was bitter against the man who caused our misery, I learned to forgive and not to blame the Lord. Your heart is being deliberately stretched so that you can see yourself for who you are - your strengths and weaknesses - so that He may perfect you and lead you to an ever greater joy than you supposed you had before your loss. This of necessity entails suffering to some degree - this is a world of suffering - it is no primrose path. But then one needs to have the perspective of what this life is for. Christ never, incidentally, said that it would be easy, only that it would be worth it. We are here for so many reasons, perfecting our spirits being one of them.
There is much I could add to this but that will in part depend on the choices you make - how you choose to react, whether you choose a path of anger of bitterness, or whether a path of acceptance and faith. Either way will involve suffering for the pain of your loss can in no way be minimised. It is right to grieve - it is how our love is expressed.
I lost two children along with my wife - but these were restored to me after two years of intercessory prayer. And one day - whether in this life or the next - I fully expect to be reunited with my wife.
When you look at the world as a whole, how can it be looked over by a God who is supposedly infinitely kind and forgiving, if this is so then he has a very sick sense of humour.
Well, you are judging God through the lens of your own fallen humanity. God is for sure infinitely kind, loving and forgiving but his love is not plastic - it has a greater purpose in mind. What we believe is love is very often only a pale reflection of the greater love which he wishes to share with us. It is the love that endues all things, hopes for all things, and - ultimately - believes in all things good. The loss of a battle does not mean the loss of a war and were a general to pack it in after the loss of the battle without resolutely going on nations would have been lost to wickedness. Romance stirs great passions in us - usually selfish (though not wrong) whereas God wishes us to enjoy more than this.
There are other dimensions to this problem too which really are impossible for me to comment on without knowing about you so my questions are not indended to be disrepectful or challenge your integrity. For I do not know what sort of a Christian life you and your girlfriend walked - whether you were nominal Christians or 100% committed Christians. I do not know if you walked in all the commandments and just those that suited you. For if you did not walk as Christ expects then you lose the protection you need. I am not saying that this is necessarily the explanation of your loss but rather rhetorically asking you to look honestly at yourselves. God is loving but He is also just - he cannot break His laws. If you ignore the law of gravity and jump out of a building you cannot blame God for saving you from injury ot death. The same is true of spiritual laws. If we, wko know the truth, chose to ignore it, then we are open and vunerable to attack by the enemy.
I can only conclude that the universe is Godless or we have a God who has a twisted sense of humour. How can this be explained. I would like to regain my faith but right now I can see no way of achieving this.
Well, I think you are unwise to come to such hasty conclusions especially as you will hurt yourself all the more because of them. I only hope that I have been able to give you some keys to turn and some handles to hold on to. I am always happy to discuss this further with you - feel free to email me as often as you will. In the meantime I will be praying for you.
Be assured that God is not the picture you presently have of Him but this is one generated by your feelings of frustrations of anger because you do not understand. As I said, I cannot promise you the big picture but I can surely help you out of the present one you have.
This page was created on 20 April 2000
Last updated on 20 April 2000
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