Why Do Tragedies Happen?


Every morning while eating breakfast, I sit before the television and hear story after story of tragedies. A fire rips through an apartment complex. Twin tornadoes tear through a Midwestern state leaving destruction and death in their path. A young man is accused of rape and murder. Gangs have taken over a certain area of a city. Militant groups are attempting to overthrow a legitimate government. Twins are born conjoined, and the doctors give little hope.

In Jesus' time and before, it was typical to associate tragedy with sin. Pilate had killed innocent worshippers offering sacrifices. Now a tower had fallen. "And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem?" (Luke 13:4 NLT)

Sin is the overall answer to the question about tragedies. Material things deteriorate due to the impact of sin (Romans 8:22). Bad things can happen to people who are generally good when they make sinful choices. Sin has consequences. In a lapse of judgment, I may choose to drive drunk and kill someone in an accident. While God could prevent the accident, he often allows sin to take its devastating course even when innocent people are affected.

When certain natural forces collide, disasters occur: earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis. Innocent people always die when they strike. Though God could prevent the deaths-and the formation of the disaster itself, he chooses to let nature's laws take their course.

Tragedies are tragic, but out of them new life emerges. People's better angels arise to rebuild what natural disasters have stolen. Families pull together when personal tragedies strike. Lessons are learned from the consequences of sinful choices. When all is said and done, I can't explain the why of every tragedy. Many seem senseless. What I can do is trust that God knows what he's doing and that everything he does is carried out with the greatest love I could ever experience.

Let God teach you to trust him when tragedy strikes.

Prayer: When tragedies-personal or otherwise, strike, dear God, we choose to trust Your goodness and wisdom.

Martin Wiles
Hodges, South Carolina, USA

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