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Asking God Why in the Face of Tragedy

Updated on March 28, 2016
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Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.


Why, God?

Have you ever asked God why? I mean really plead with Him in your darkest hour to answer the why? I have. I ask because I want the incomprehensible to make sense with the hope that my pain, or someone else's pain to be relieved even the smallest bit. The last 24 hours God has showed me incomprehensible tragedy in other's lives. And a part of me is asking God, "Why?"


Tonight my 20 year old son called weeping because he found his friend who had taken his own life. So now tragedy is a little closer to home. It's not my tragedy in that it was not my son who took his life. It is that boy's parent's tragedy and my son's tragedy. My boy is with the police and is in a town about 25 miles away. I have no car to get to him but told him I would find a ride somehow so he wouldn't be alone. He doesn't want me to come, just to pray. I haven't found a ride and I am desperate to comfort him. So I am here at home praying tonight, as are many others. And I ask God, why did this boy end his life? Why do his parents have to suffer through this horrific tragedy? Why did my son have to be the one to find him? How will all these people be able to get through this? My boy is hurting and I can't make it better. I cannot take the parent's pain away.

What I have often found throughout my life is when I ask God "why?" for some tragedy, I don't get an answer. And truly, I know of no one who has ever had that question answered in a tragedy where a child has passed away. Is God cruel by not answering? Is he even listening? I don't believe He is cruel. It is not in His character to be cruel. And I believe He hears the prayers of His people. So I ask myself, "What if God told me why so many children are sexually abused and scarred for life, or why a sweet innocent baby gets cancer, or if God told this young man's parents why this happened to their son? (I am sure that is what they are asking now). Would we accept such answers? Would we agree with His answers? Would it make a difference? Would it take away the pain and sense of loss? No, not likely.

Questions by Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman lost his 5 year old daughter in May of 2008. Here is one of many songs that came out of that time.

Who are You God?
Cause You are turning out to be so much different than I imagined
And where are You God?
Cause I am finding life to be so much harder than I had planned
You know that I’m afraid to ask these questions
But You know they are there
And if You know my heart the way that I believe You do
You know that I believe in You
But still I have these questions

Like how could You, God?
How could You be so good and strong
And make a world that can be so painful
And where were You God?
I know You had to be right there
I know You never turned Your head
You know that I’m confused by all this mystery
You know I get afraid
But if You know my heart as completely as I trust You do
Oh, You know that I am trusting You

So is it true that for every tear I cry, You cry a thousand more
As You weep with those who weep
And are You just holding Yourself back
From crushing all the pain
And even in this world for reasons we just can’t understand for now
But isn’t there a day of redemption coming?

Redemption is coming
Come quickly Lord
Come quickly Lord
Come quickly Lord

So who am I God?
That You would raise me from the dust
And breathe Your life and Your love into me
You know that I believe

© Words & music by Steven Curtis Chapman

Job's experience

Job asked" why?" All throughout his book he asks that age old question. If anyone ever suffered it was Job. He lost everything - house, children, possessions, health and livelihood . His wife told him to curse God and die. And though his friends rallied around him for seven days, they turned against him.

Job was an amazing man and it's no wonder God said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and righteous man who fears God and shuns evil? (Job 1:8). In all that Job went through, he did not sin. God did not punish him for asking why. Instead he listened and showed him who He is. And that was enough for Job in the end.

Through his suffering Job made some comments reflecting his faith and acceptance that God could be trusted, at least in certain moments, no matter what befell him. When Job got the news that his ten children had just been killed and all his possessions and riches destroyed, Job "...fell to the ground and worshipped saying 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:20-21).

When his so-called friends started accusing him of sin and persecuting him, he replied amongst other things, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him" (Job 13:15), and "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and he will stand upon the earth at last" (Job 19:25).

Job did ask "why?" Job lamented greatly. God did not give an answer. But he restored Job, not just by giving him more children, home, possessions, health, wealth and livelihood, but by revealing to Job how great, how good, and how powerful He really is. In the end, Job declared, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see You."

It's interesting to note that God did not restore everything back to Job until Job came to terms with God. It's so easy to declare God is good when He has fixed our problems. Job learned the most important thing first, that God is good period, and that God will always love Him and be with Him through the most difficult times.

Take His yoke upon you

I see no reason to think that asking God why? is a sin. Even Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And I don't know why God allows bad things to happen to God-fearing people, innocent people, and young people. I don't know anyone who can answer it. I've have heard people act and pontificate as to why God allows tragedy and suffering. But when tragedy strikes them, they are also asking God "why?" The things they thought they understood don't make sense once it happens to them.

None of us gets out of this life without pain, tragedy, and suffering of some kind. Jesus didn't say "Follow me and you will never suffer again." Rather He said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

We don't have to bear the burdens of our tragedies alone. He walks beside us, holding us up. And that is why we trust Him.



If you would lift up my son's friend's family in prayer I know they would appreciate it. Pray that Christ will bring them comfort and strength by his presence. Pray for my son and his friend as they try to cope with what they've seen and lost. They are not walking with Christ. Pray this will bring them to Jesus.

Pray for those you know who are going through hard times, disappointments, tragedies, rebellion towards God, and hopelessness. And if you are suffering today, my heart goes out to you. I won't give you a sugary platitude. I will simply say Jesus loves you and He cares. He weeps with you. He knows your pain, and He will carry you through this devastating time.

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Greg Laurie & Steven Curtis Chapman share their hope in their grief

© 2012 Lori Colbo


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