Making Sense of Tragedy


Finding the why in life is a vast undertaking. This is especially true in times of great tragedy. Yesterday afternoon we got word that a student in my children’s school district had passed away. An unknown sudden illness took control and in just a few weeks a healthy, vibrant teenager deteriorated into an unrecoverable state.

It was amazing to see the community rally together around this family. Rival schools and friends alike attended prayer vigils and fundraisers with an incredible show of support. Today, all of the schools in our area have donned our school colors as a tribute to this young man.

Late night conversations

Last night, after all the activities of the day had passed, I had a conversation with my son. He is several years younger than the student who passed and only knew him from a distance. He had heard the news and I wanted to be a support to him as he processed this loss. I asked him how he was feeling about what he had heard.

“Actually, I’m pretty angry about it.” he said. That was not the response I was expecting.

I asked him why and he said “I don’t understand. We did everything right. We got together and prayed for him. We did events and he still died.”

As a dad, these are the times where your heart breaks. I hurt when my kids hurt. The question of why was hanging over the whole situation. Why does God provide miraculous recovery for some, but not for others? Why does something so tragic happen to someone with so much potential?

I asked my son “why do you think bad things happen to good people?” He responded the way most of us do to that question – a very tentative “I don’t know.”

How can we make sense of it all?

I don’t have all the answers, but I talked to my son last night about perspective. We can’t make sense of all the hurt and pain that accompanies this life from our point of view. The only way we can have hope in the middle of the tragedy is to see our existence from an eternal perspective.

If this life is the best there is, then this is the saddest of days. I believe, however, that the bible gives us the hope that the best part of our existence is on the other side of this life and that we will spend far more of our existence on that side. We will feel the loss and the loss hurts, but there is hope In Christ.

This is my “Why”

This is why I continue to write and speak. This is the “why” that drives my life. I want others to know and experience the hope that Christ provides, the hope that death is not final, the hope that the best is yet to come.

What is your “why”? Live today like everything you do matters because it does. Do things that have eternal value and cherish every moment that you have.

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