I never knew Joshua. Not many people did. He was only four years old when he died in an automobile accident earlier this week.
Because of my profession, I’ve seen a lot of caskets. I still haven’t found one that I have liked. No matter how well designed they are or how much money was spent on them you just can’t get past the fact that there is death inside. A casket that is designed specifically for a four-year-old is especially disturbing. No amount of craftsmanship or teddy bears can cover the death that is inside.
Joshua’s family is not the only one in my small community that is experiencing pain right now.
The same day that I found out about Joshua, I was told that a teacher at our high school lost everything in a house fire. Yesterday I learned of the death of a former pastor in our area. As I write this, tornadoes are sweeping through the southeast. At least one life in my state has already been claimed.
And I don’t know why.
Isn’t it weird that our first response to tragedy is typically a question? We want as much information as possible. It’s as if we think that more knowledge will somehow relieve our pain.
Paul saw things differently.
Tornadoes and car wrecks never come up in the book of Romans. But in the first 11 chapters Paul wrestles with some pretty weighty topics. Topics that good people who love Jesus have been debating since Paul put his pen down. Paul wasn’t blind to the depth of his topics. He knew that he was perhaps creating more questions than answers. But he didn’t respond by throwing his hands up in the air in theological disgust.
Instead, he worshiped.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?’
‘Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)
When we try to explain what God is doing in a tragedy we usually end up taking his name in vain, blaspheming his name or insulting those whom we are trying to comfort.
Four-year-olds don’t die because God needed another flower in his garden and tornadoes aren’t always a sign of God’s punishment.
The fact is that none of us knows why Joshua died in that car wreck.
But we do know that God is good (Psalm 106:1), that he rules over all things, including car wrecks and tornadoes (Colossians 1:15-20; Jeremiah 14:22), and that he is worthy of our trust (Deuteronomy 32:4).
Jerry Bridges’ words are on point.
“If we are to honor God by trusting him, and if we are to find peace for ourselves, we must come to the place where we can honestly say, ‘God, I do not have to understand. I will just trust you.'”
Earlier today, under the threat of a tornado, my wife asked my frightened son who was in charge of the weather.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, why doesn’t he make the storm go away?”
I don’t know why.
But I do know that Jesus is sovereign, good and worthy of our trust.
And we will worship him.