Last night, I was just about to convene a church business conference and then lead into our weekly Pastor’s Bible Study when one of our church members asked me, “Have you seen this?” He showed me his phone and it was opened to a news page reporting the tragic accident that had just occurred involving a senior adult group from FBC New Braunfels.
I announced the news to the church family during our prayer time. We prayed together for this church and all the families affected.
We have learned today that 13 senior adults were killed and only one survived the accident. A pickup had collided head-on with the bus carrying the senior adults home from a retreat at one of our Baptist camps. How incredibly tragic.
Once again, we all are faced with that nagging question, “Why would God allow this?” As Christians, we face this question often. We affirm that God is absolutely sovereign and omnipotent. We believe He could have averted this tragedy. However, like many times in the past (and many more in the future), He did not. If God can intervene to stop such tragedies as this, why doesn’t He?
I was reminded of this paradox during our readings this week in Matthew. In Matthew 14, Jesus received the information that John the Baptist had been beheaded. Matthew records that when Jesus heard this, “he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13). He took time to absorb this news. He loved John. As a human being, He was taking time to grieve and pray.
Then—Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000. Then—He walked on water. Just after that (Matthew 15), He traveled to Gentile territory around Galilee and people began bringing “the lame, the blind, the cripple, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them” (Matthew 15:30).
So, He did not intervene to save John the Baptist. But, He performed other miracles all the while. It’s puzzling, isn’t it? On the one hand, Jesus allowed a wicked despot to murder a prophet, while, on the other hand, He demonstrated His power in performing miracles for others. What do we make of it?
I don’t have a definitive answer. But, I will say that our perspective is always limited. We don’t know the full picture ever. Plus, our God is a good and gracious God. His goodness is on display every day. He still demonstrates His goodness on all fronts. And, this world is out of sorts. His Word is clear that creation has been affected by sin. Further, we have all been created for eternity.
So, until Jesus returns, we will deal with tragedy. We will stand with grieving families like those in New Braunfels today. We will face uncertainty and live with some level of ambiguity. We will have to manage our way through grief and loss.
However, we will also choose to trust God and believe in His ultimate goodness. We will rely on His power to redeem the most broken of situations. We will lean into His arms and seek His presence when tragedies arise. We will hold each other close. We will keep striving to develop an eternal perspective. And—we will pray. In fact, do that right now. It does everybody good.