A 19-year-old man from our small community died this week, overcome by an avalanche while snowmobiling in the high country. He was a year behind my daughter in school and a year ahead of my oldest son. I see his mom every other week as part of my work for the local paper.
My #2 son (age 16) sent me a text this afternoon: “What do you say to people when they ask why God didn’t stop ____ from dying? I’ve been asked a couple times today.”
The cheap, easy, cop-out answer is something like this: “God knows best” or “God needed another angel in heaven” or “He was so good God wanted him home now.” Most of us recognize those answers as ringing false on the inside.
So how do we answer the impossible question, WHY?
It’s not an easy answer. Not multiple choice. Not true or false. It’s like one of those convoluted algebraic equations that covers half the board and still doesn’t come to a conclusion you comprehend.
What did I tell my son? God made man with a free will to choose what he/she does and where he/she goes.
Just as God will not override the free will He gave mankind, God does not override natural law or spiritual law. If we decide to go somewhere, we go. If we decide to do something, we do it. And God allows it. We think that’s perfectly just and fair and right. Until someone gets hurt, and we wanna know why God didn’t do something about it.
God doesn’t MAKE us accept Jesus. He doesn’t force us to tell the truth. He doesn’t send a supernaturally guided raindrop to extinguish every lit cigarette, or something to jam every gun aimed at an innocent victim.
If He did those kinds of things at random, He would be obligated to do them for everyone, or else He would not be fair or just.
And His fairness and equity is just a part of the overall equation.
God is not only omnipotent (all powerful), He’s omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (without time). In other words, the equation that adds up to our lives includes variables we can’t see because we are trapped in earth suits with limited knowledge, limited power, and locked into a specific, and short, frame of time. These are the variables that figure in to the equation of their lives. What spiritual laws have been set in motion? What physical laws were in place? Most of the time, we simply don’t know. And we hate that, because WE WANT TO KNOW.
However, if you knew all things, on every level of past, present AND future, your brain (which gets confused reading through the IRS instructions for the 1040) would probably spontaneously combust. In conclusion, if we can’t answer WHY, we should at least be able to answer WHAT.
What do YOU believe? I hope that young man was a believer in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. I believe he was, based on the insight of his friends and family. That being the case, He is not lost or MIA. He’s in heaven with His Lord Jesus, as alive (or more alive) than you and I.
WHY did this happen? Remember those word problems in math class where you simply lacked enough information to answer the question? Yeah. I simply don’t know enough information to give you a reason. But this I do know: Jesus has it covered.
All those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (not according to their works, but according to what — or in whom — they believe), need not fear death. It’s merely a transition from one state of being to another, like falling asleep. We will see them again. Probably sooner than we think.
My prayers go out to this sweet family in their time of need, trusting God to intervene in the course of grief and sorrow and reveal to them the absolute truth of heaven, of life in Christ, and of the vapor that is this natural life. May they find comfort in God’s Word and among their brothers and sisters in Christ.