Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

A place for heartfelt, honest answers to your questions from a caring pastor

Repost: Why does God let bad things happen to children?

This post has been found most often by people doing searches so I thought it would be good to repost it with some revisions.

How could God allow a mad man to kill Christina Green, a lovely 9-year-old girl in Tuscon, AZ?  What possible good could this tragedy serve?  Why did God allow it?  In a broader sense, why do bad things happen to children?  Why does our loving God allow a child to die of starvation or related causes every few seconds?  Why does he allow these little ones to be abused, molested, maimed or killed?

Allow me to begin by pointing out that the why question is essentially unanswerable.

If something horrible happened to my granddaughter, you could not comfort me with a list of reasons implying it had to happen.  Think about it with me.  If Jesus himself appeared to you now and said your child will fall ill tomorrow and he gave you a list of reasons, how would you respond?

Nap time on Grandpa's chest

I know what I would do.  I would start arguing with him.  I’d suggest alternatives.  I’d plead for the illness to fall on me and not my child.  There are no reasons good enough to answer this question.  Bearing that in mind, I’d like to make a few observations about God, children and the why question.

God is not afraid of this question.

In fact, his people have asked why for thousands of years.   Some of them are recorded in the Bible’s song book — the book of Psalms.

O LORD, why do you stand so far away?  Why do you hide when I am in trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?  Why are you so far away when I groan for help?  (Psalm 22:1)

“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me?  Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” (Psalm 42:9)

  For you are God, my only safe haven.  Why have you tossed me aside?  Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?  (Psalm 43:2)

  Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?  Get up! Do not reject us forever.  Why do you look the other way?  Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression? (Psalm 44:23-24)

Children are especially dear to God too.  Our love and empathy for their pain is a faint reflection of how the Lord feels about them.  God is working all the time through those who are advocates for the hurting children.  His love flows into their lives through their caregivers.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14)

Jesus put a little child among them.  Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”  (Mark 9:36-37)

Jesus said, “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.  But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matthew 18:5-6)

God is closer to us when we are asking why then perhaps any other time.

He has not abandoned us.  One of the mysteries of the crucifixion is that at the same time God the Son was dying for our sins, he felt forsaken by God.

At three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice,  “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  (Mark 15:34)

That means that when you do not understand why bad things are happening God knows how you feel.  He knows what it’s like to ask the unanswerable question and hear silence in response.  You are not approaching a distant, disconnected Deity.  Our God understands our weaknesses and pain. (Hebrews 4:15)  So, feel free to turn to the Lord and cry out your why questions.  He will welcome you.  He will enfold you in his arms and share your tears.  You will not receive a list of reasons but he will give you help and comfort in your time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Credit: Free photos from acobox.com

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5 responses to “Repost: Why does God let bad things happen to children?

  1. Nikki Haines September 7, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    I think this was a really great post. Too many people try to give answers and reasons and like you said, it just falls short of making anything better. It’s nice to remember that I don’t need God to say “This is why this happened” but that I just need Him to comfort me, and He does.

    • pastormarkhaines September 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      Thanks, Nikki. Most of us are very uncomfortable with the idea that bad things can happen for no reason. We grasp at the next good thing to happen as proof that God had a purpose. But I think there’s a world of difference between saying “God sent this bad thing to bring about that good thing” and saying “God can make good from bad.”

  2. Pingback: Why did bad things happen? | Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

  3. Ann October 19, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Why did God not help Amanda Todd?

  4. Steve Rosenblatt August 31, 2014 at 5:09 AM

    Pastor Mark — I juat read a horrible story about a child not unlike Christina Green and wondered “Why?” I looked on the internet and found your article. After noting that the question is “unanswerable” you proceed to say that God is not afraid of the “why” question and we’re close to God when we ask “why”. I’d like to ask another “why” question: Why did you write this article? It really sheds little (no?) light on the subject question: Why does God let bad things happen to children? The title is false advertising! (I’m being cheeky but you get the point.) I’ll keep searching. Blessings.

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