Suffering and loss



May 17, 2107

Dear Friends:

I have observed in dismay many young people that I thought had great potential lose their lives to drug overdose, auto accidents and suicide. My words of comfort and reassurance are woefully inadequate when a teenage life has been snuffed out so early.  I simply don’t know what to say.  On the one hand I know that disease, decay and death were not a part of God’s original plan for mankind; I also know that as omnipotent God He could intervene and stop suffering, pain, accidents and death.  And yet He all too often does not seem to lift a finger to intervene.  At least that’s how it looks to me.

Paul, the greatest evangelist of all time and author of half the New Testament wasted years in dark prisons, and nights and day in the open sea very near to death, and hours and hours hiding from mobs or being lowered over walls in baskets, etc.   My favorite 20th century heroes—— D. Bonhoeffer, CS Lewis and Oswald Chambers—-all died “early”. One war murdered by the Nazis before he was 40, the other died in his early fifties, and the last died in his early 40’s of appendicitis.  ALL of these men should have lived longer lives and accomplished even greater things…….or so my reasoning goes.

But the truth that God is ever revealing to me is that He is not in a “business” attempting to grow and a bigger and bigger enterprise with great salesmen and superb marketers.  No, God’s in the habit of taking mortal men and turning them into sons and daughters.   And part of that process is to bring them to a place where their mortal life is not their individual focus but rather the goal of perfectly reflecting His Son, Jesus.  And if that reflection requires that their life ends at 30, 40, 50 or 100 years of age, God knows what He is doing. God is not obligated to explain to me why He let’s a 20 year old young man die in a car crash or why He takes away a Christian apologist at the height of his career.  God’s purpose is to make me holy in the unusual ways and circumstances that suit His purposes.

I suppose the question is, “Do I believe that God knows what He is doing, and by watching what He does, do I trust in the end result?”  When a young life is lost I find peace in reminding myself that God loved and loves that young person infinitely than I or any other mortal can imagine.  

It’s natural to mourn the passing of someone we love or would have like to have known and loved.  But God does know what He is doing.Have your way Lord and open my eyes to see how you are using tragedy and heartache to further young kingdom.


Dean Barley


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