…this thing is from me.
1 Kings 12:24
Did God Take Our Son, or Was it an Accident?
“No, God does not do evil. God is good. But he does direct events here on earth and allows sinful man a lot of freedom to prove his utter hopelessness apart from the Almighty.
And sometimes that gets pretty ugly.”
We say things like this all the time:
• Hans was killed in a car crash, an MVA, a Motor Vehicle Accident.
• She broke her leg skiing. What an unfortunate accident.
• I dropped the pie on the floor. It was a clumsy accident.
Or how about these:
• A baby sparrow falls to the ground. The Creator of the Universe sees it but the Mama sparrow says, it was just a terrible accident.
• A man of God is shipwrecked with a bunch of convicts and gets bit by a snake. This man experienced a series of accidents.
• The King of Kings rides into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna” and ends up crucified between two thieves. He must not have planned well. What a tragic accident.
A young man is driving down his driveway toward a rural highway. His speed is between five and ten miles per hour. At the same time, a pickup truck is traveling this same highway toward the very spot where the young man is about to emerge from the driveway. The pickup is going between fifty five and sixty five miles per hour. It is dark and the roads are icy. They are on a collision course, but before the pickup can plow into the driver’s door of the young man’s car there are many things that must happen first. If anything should delay or speed up any one of those things, the two vehicles will not meet.
This would include things like: If either driver accelerates, even minutely, or eases his foot off the gas slightly; sneezes; puts fuel in the tank and enters the wrong PIN at the pump and has to re-enter it; or stops by the side of the road to use the facilities, etc. – if any task or communication takes slightly more or less time at any moment of that entire day, the vehicles will not meet at the end of the driveway.
If the young man drops a wrench and has to spend five minutes fishing it out of the engine compartment where he was just finishing up.
If whatever he came back to the house for, just before leaving, wasn’t where he thought it was and he had to look around for it.
If, in the driveway, his mother had walked over to him to say “Hi, we’re back. How’s it going?” instead of rushing to the house to wrap his birthday presents before he could spot the bags she was carrying from his favorite gun store.
If any of those things-the vehicles will not meet at the end of the driveway.
I think it is safe to say, that the number of factors that need to be lined up perfectly in order for these two vehicles to meet, is incalculable, maybe infinite. I wish some mathematician would figure out the “chances” of something like this happening.
Consider this: according to Henry Morris (The Defender’s Study Bible, World Wide Publishers ©1995):
“The probability that eleven men [Joseph’s brothers in Genesis Chapter 43] could be ‘accidentally’ arranged in order of age is only one chance out of 39,917,000…there are almost forty million ways in which eleven men could be seated.”
I am positive there are far more than eleven variables that come into play when trying to figure out the chances of that pickup hitting Hans’ car that night and hitting it precisely where it would do the most damage.
But since the Biblical Joseph knew the ages of his brothers, seating his brothers according to their ages was not a problem for him. The brothers, not having complete knowledge of the situation (they had not yet recognized Joseph), marvelled. What an incredible coincidence to be seated that way by accident.
Incredible? Yes. Accident? No. Joseph had knowledge his brothers did not have yet. He arranged the seating for his own purposes, just as God had arranged for the brothers to fake his death and sell him to a passing caravan. They thought to do evil – they did evil – , but God meant it for good. Likewise, I do not have perfect knowledge of what God is doing. But God does, and He is arranging events for His good purposes.
I don’t like the word accident. To me, the best use of this word is to make sure people know I did not do something on purpose:
“Sorry about your toe, I stepped on it by accident.”
“Accidents” are usually someone’s fault. They are unintended events. So, in that sense, the crash that ended Han’s earthly life was an accident, something unplanned and unforeseen.
But calling it a chance event, or a coincidence, or a bad break makes me uncomfortable. Well, actually, it makes me mad. It trivializes the whole horrible thing and seems to imply that God wasn’t paying attention or that life is a crap shoot. That there is no purpose for what happened. It was just an accident.
Yes, I know – maybe it happened by chance and then God used it for His purposes after the fact. It seems to me that, while it is true that God can use any “random” event for His glory and our good, this way of thinking is akin to the idea that God created the universe but then things went terribly wrong and He has been wringing His hands trying to get something good to come out of it ever since.
As I see it, there are only five possibilities:
- God directly caused the crash. If this is the case, since I know God is good, I trust He had good reasons for this.
- God allowed natural events to take their course which resulted in the crash. If this is the case, since God is in control of His universe, He could have caused or prevented the crash easily by altering the amount of frost on the pavement or dropping the temperature to the minus 50s that evening, which would likely have kept Hans home. God has power and authority over natural events.
- Satan caused the crash and God is redeeming the event and making good things come out of it. God is certainly redeeming and will continue to redeem what has happened, but Satan cannot bypass God’s permissive will. The Lord initiated the encounter with Satan and was the one to bring Job into the picture. Satan did the evil, God gave him permission to do it.
- Some combination of the above. Possible.
- God had nothing to do with it. There is no God. It was an accident. Not possible.
I happen to be one of those folks that believe God either causes or allows everything that comes to pass. Everything. The baby sparrow, the bump on the ski hill, the shipwreck, the snake bite, the pie disaster, the crash – everything.
No, God does not do evil. God is good. But he does direct events here on earth and allows sinful man a lot of freedom to prove his utter hopelessness apart from the Almighty.
And sometimes that gets pretty ugly.
I have seen the heartbreaking anguish as a parent questions: “Why did this happen? Did God take my baby? Was it ‘just an accident’? If I had been more careful, might this accident not have happened? What could have been done to produce a different outcome?”
Grieving, suffering mother, you could spend a lifetime replaying all the possible what-ifs and never get anywhere. Doing so will eat you up. But here is the good news: God has all those what-ifs, I-should-haves, why-didn’t-yous covered. And He can override our mistakes, our stupidities and even our diligent care to bring about the purposes He has ordained. God was in complete control the day your child died.
Many bereaved parents cannot believe that. It is easier to see the pain of child loss as the center of our universe. Truly, there are times that grief is the center of our universe. While this is understandable, it can lead to wrong thinking, and wrong thinking compounds the pain. For example:
Wrong Thinking #1: God did not take my child. Satan took my child and God would not or could not intervene. The way I see it, if God did not take Hans, He is cruel and/or powerless and Satan won on January 11, 2016 – he successfully took out a young man with great potential for service to the Lord and, therefore, must be more powerful than God who did nothing to stop him.
No, God did it. And not only will He redeem this loss for our good and His glory, but from it He can and will deliver a perfect and total victory in ways that we cannot begin to imagine. I could not accept such a devastating loss from any other hand than that of my Savior Who loves me.
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? Job 2:10
Wrong Thinking #2: God doesn’t kill people. Certainly not ‘good’ people. It was just an accident. The fact is, God brought about the death of His very own son.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: (Isaiah 53:10)
Wrong Thinking #3: If God is good, He would not have allowed my child to die. Or, in other words, God is only good if He gives me what I want or exempts me from heartache. This is a very self centered way of viewing God. The reality is that people die every day. There is sin and suffering all over the world – why should I be spared? Do I feel I deserve a better deal than countless hurting people throughout the ages?
There is a bigger picture that goes beyond my own personal pain. Just because death brings sadness to the bereaved, does not mean God is not good. Would God be good if everyone lived forever, if all tears were wiped away, if everything wrong were made right? Would that meet your expectations?
Well, here is good news: God has made a provision for that in His Son, Jesus Christ:
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25,26)
This world is not all there is. There is a plan unfolding before our eyes and only God knows all the details. And, as you know, there is a lot of stuff going on down here that is beyond horrendous. Thank God this is not all there is. How could we bear it? Why would we?
So, where is God? Why doesn’t He stop the suffering? What kind of a God lets a baby die? Or maybe He isn’t powerful enough to keep evil in check. Maybe He doesn’t care about me…
Where was He when my child died?
Dear suffering one, He was and is on His throne. He sees it all. No one gets away with anything. No matter how ugly the circumstances surrounding the death of your child, He will make everything right and beautiful. For those who belong to Him, when we see Him face to face, we will be completely satisfied and convinced of the rightness of His plan. There will be justice. There will be restoration. There will be healing.
But in His time.
I know. You want it now. Me, too. But this is where trust comes in. God sees the whole picture and He knows everything about everything and everyone. He knows what is best in all circumstances. He knows what He is doing. He is God.
So, did God take Hans? Was it an Accident or was it an Appointment?
Many people think it was an accident, a tragedy. Something that shouldn’t have happened. Honestly, I wish it hadn’t. But it all depends on your perspective. If this life is all there is, then it was a tragedy, an irredeemable loss. An accident.
But, if this life is just a vapor (and it is); and if there is an all-powerful, all-knowing God of love who is preparing an eternal home for me (and He is); if, in His wisdom, He causes or allows painful things to happen in order to accomplish His wider purpose, (it really isn’t all about me, after all), then everything that happens to me can be counted a victory. In Him, I am free from the torment of what-ifs and I can view Hans’ home-going as an Appointment with Almighty God, an event of great significance in God’s plan.
But I must do one thing:
I must believe Him.
“None but an infidel believes in things happening by chance, though there are many infidels now wearing the name of “Christian.” There are no accidents in a world which is governed by the living God, for “of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). Therefore does faith perceive the hand of God in every thing which enters our lives, be it great or small. And it is only as we recognize His hand molding all our circumstances, that God is honored, and our hearts are kept in peace. O for grace to say at all times, “It is the Lord: let Him do what seems good to Him.” (1 Samuel 3:18).
~ Arthur Pink 1886-1952, “The Life of David”
For more on this topic:
Free download: J. Vernon McGee: Death of a Little Child
Job Chapter Two
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:1-10 NKJV
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