September 22, 1999


We cannot answer 'Why?'

___By Margie Atkinson
___Chaplain, Fort Worth
___As a Christian Minister who faces death every day, I have given a great deal of thought to the question, "Why does God allow these terrible things to happen to innocent people?"
___A woman whose three grandchildren were murdered by a deranged gunman and whose daughter was shot in the head--right here in Fort Worth--asked me that question. A grandmother whose grandchild died at 8 years old asked Jesus and me that question over wedglogosmand over and over. A mother whose child was dying of cancer wondered what she had done wrong to cause this to happen to her child. Over and over again, the question "Why?" is expressed to me in various ways, shapes, forms. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the answer to this question.
___The first reaction when you ask this question is to search for an answer--any answer. After all, I am the minister, I've been to seminary, I "know" God. I should have all the
"Grief is not a problem to be cured. It is simply a statement that you have loved."
answers to these kinds of questions. A very wise professor, (whose daughter was present at the shootings at Wedgwood Baptist Church) once told me: "The question 'Why?' is not one that people truly expect you to have an answer to. Rather, it is an expression of their pain."
___For me to presume to know the answer to this question is, at best, kidding myself and at worst, arrogant. I don't know why your son or your daughter or your spouse or brother or sister was killed. While we may be able to discern motives of a crazed killer, the answer to the question, "Why was it my friend?" is indiscernible. Bad things happen to good people, as Rabbi Harold Kushner once said. Trying to answer an unanswerable question brings little consolation.
___Over the course of the last few days, I have heard it said over and again: "We don't mourn for those who died. They are in a better place." From the Christian perspective, the believer is in a better place. However, to pretend that we don't mourn their absence or their violent death is downright unbiblical. Of course we mourn! We will mourn for a long, long time, and when healing begins to come, we will still miss those whom we have lost.
___God instilled these emotions into the depth of our souls. "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Jesus mourned the death of his friend Lazarus. Women wept at the foot of the cross. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to grieve, albeit differently from those who have not hope (I Thessalonians 4:13). Yes! Christians do have hope for eternal life, for reunion with our loved ones one day. So, blessedly in the midst of our grief, we find hope and comfort. But the grief does not go away. Hopefully, because of our faith, grief does not turn into despair because we have the promise of eternal life for "whosoever believes in him" (John 3:16) .
___So, I say to you, if you are grieving, let the tears flow. Let the pain out.
___Talk to God about your anger and fear and pain. Talk to others about it. Don't quit asking the questions. Cling to your faith. Find peace that passes understanding, not in the place of the pain and grief, but in the midst of it, as you go through it, in spite of it.
___"Chaplain, why did this happen to my child? Why didn't God take me instead?" I really don't know. What I do know is that life is precious. Those we love are precious. Today may be the last day we have to tell them this. God will bring you through this pain and grief.
___As Doug Manning once wrote: "Grief is not a problem to be cured. It is simply a statement that you have loved."
___My thoughts and prayers are with you.


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