4 Explanations for Tragedy: Wisdom for Parents in Pain

by | Jul 27, 2020 | what you can do

photo cred unsplash

While organizing old papers in my office, I came across sermon notes I’d taken when visiting a friend’s church several years ago. I think the pastor’s message is helpful for anyone struggling to make sense out tragedy and disappointment. Maybe you’re a parent who is in the middle of a heartbreaking situation. If so, I hope this will help you as you wrestle with what God has allowed in your life through your child. The  message was taken from John 18:1-4 in the New Testament.

. . . They brandished their weapons under the light of torches and lamps. Jesus stepped forward. It was clear He was not surprised because He knew all things (John 18: 3b-4 Voice).

These verses tell about events that took place in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested the night before his crucifixion. To many people, what unfolded afterward was a terrible tragedy.

During our lifetime, we’ll experience tragedies in many forms: sickness, accidents, the death of loved ones, financial loss, or divorce. For you who are reading this, tragedy has come in the form of the troubles, rebellion, or rejection you’ve had with your beloved children.

How do we make sense of our child’s choices and behaviors? Of any tragedy? What explanation do we offer ourselves or to anyone who challenges us for a possible reason? Is there a satisfactory one?

4 Common Explanations for Tragedy:

  1. There is no God. If He exists, then why would He let __________happen?
  2. God is not good. If He is, then why would He let __________happen?
  3. God is not powerful. If He is, then why wouldn’t He stop or prevent bad things from happening?
  4. God is good and powerful, in spite of our tragedies. If He is, then we can trust Him with everything that happens.

How can someone believe God is good and powerful in the face of tragedy?


The Bible says, . . . without faith it is impossible to please God . . . (Heb. 11:6).


Dear friend, remember these two truths:

(1) God is in control, even though it doesn’t look like He is. We were never meant to understand why bad things happen, but to trust and rest in God with our questions.

Isaiah 55: 8-9 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’

(2) We don’t know what God is doing, but He is working. He will use evil and bad things that happen for our good and for His glory.

Gen. 50:20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…

photo cred. Jean Vella on unsplash

“In God’s hands, intended evil becomes eventual good. . .

‘You wove evil . . . but God rewove it together for good’.”

– Max Lucado, You’ll Get Through This

Lucado goes on to say that “though challenging times may bring a load of uncertainty and fear that feels too heavy to bear, God gives us this promise: You’ll get through this.”

In his book, he encourages us to:

  • Find comfort that we are God’s child and God cares deeply for us.
  • Remember that God is near us and has never left us.
  • Take courage that God will restore even the most painful circumstances and use them for good.

Prayer and A Resource

Heavenly Father, Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him and the good that would come later. What He endured was still painful and hard, but He chose to trust You. I don’t have such knowledge, so please help me keep believing that You are in control, You are good, and You are powerful no matter what. Give me Your perspective on my tragedies. By faith, I commit to trust You all the days of my life. Amen.

Recommended Book: You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado


**WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN TRAGEDY? I’d love to hear from you!!