Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why is one life spared, and not another?

Yesterday in Guelph, a 14 year old girl died when an interior wall of a public washroom collapsed in on her.

A 14-year-old up-and-coming diver is dead after an interior wall in a Southend Community Park washroom collapsed yesterday.

Isabel Warren was a member of the Etobicoke Diving Club. Recently, she qualified for the Speedo Junior National Championships on the one metre, three metre, and tower. She was to head to Victoria on July 9 to compete at the championships.

Yesterday, the Grade 9 Bishop Macdonell student was in the washroom during an outdoor physical education class when a cinder block wall fell onto her at about 12:30 p.m.

She was rushed to hospital where she succumbed to what Wellington District Catholic School Board superintendent Larry Clifford called "substantial injuries."

One of my church friends wrote to me, confused. She said,

"Just 1 minute before the wall collapsed, our little 2 year old granddaughter was in the bathroom with her other grandma. They passed each other going in and out. We thank God that our granddaughter is safe, but mourn for the young girl who died. Why is one little life spared and another young life taken?"

Luke 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus, in this passage, is bringing up two incidents that had puzzled the people living at that time. Both were tragedies.

In the first instance, Pilate killed some Galileans who were offering sacrifices - they were in the middle of WORSHIP! This would be similar to a gunman coming into our church and shooting us down. It would be a terrible thing to live through, and it would shake the people to their core.

The second occasion was the fall of the tower in Siloam. Eighteen people died. They could have been young or old, rich or poor. Perhaps some of them were religious leaders, and others may have been women or children. It doesn't matter.

Do you think . . . that these. . . were worse sinners . . . ?? Jesus' rhetorical question reflects a popular view that tragedies and physical ailments were due to personal sin. His answer (No) denies any such connection in this case.

Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Though Jesus regularly has compassion on those who suffer, here he draws a broader lesson: this tragic event is a warning that final judgment is coming to the entire world.

Every time something like this happens, we are reminded that life is but a vapour. We are reminded that we are not in control.

I wrote to my friend,

The truth is that we are not in control of our lives. Our days are numbered by God, who does all things well. I am so glad for you, that God spared your little granddaughter, and sorry for the family that lost their precious 14 year old daughter. The spiritual lesson is this: we must repent, and turn to God. We don't have forever. We do not know when we will take our last breath!

I do pray that God will use the death of this young girl to cause many to repent and turn to Him.

I am not saying that we have to have all the answers, or know exactly why God does what He does. Sometimes we look around and simply cannot fathom why God allows certain tragedies, or permits certain tyrannies. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Faith on Trial - Studies in Psalm 73,

"Why is it that God allows certain forms of tyranny to persist, especially those that are absolutely godless? Why does He not wipe them all out, and shower His blessings upon His own people? That is our way of thinking. But it is based on a fallacy. God's mind is eternal, and God's ways are so infinitely above us that we must always start by being prepared not to understand immediately everything He does."

"...Perpexity in this matter is not only not surprising; I want to emphasize that to be perplexed is not sinful either. There, again, is something that is very comforting....Ah yes, it is wrong to be in a state of despair; but it is not wrong to be perplexed. Let us draw this clear distinction; the mere fact that you may be perplexed about something that is happening at the present time does not mean that you are guilty of sin. You are in God's hand, and yet something unpleasant is happening to you, and you say: I do not understand. There is nothing wrong with that - 'perplexed, but not in despair'. The perplexity in and of itself is not sinful, for our minds are not only finite, they are also weakened by sin. We do not see things clearly; we do not know what is best for us; we cannot take the long view; so it is very natural that we should be perplexed."

We may be perplexed, confused, uncertain. That's okay. We do not have to understand it all. What we must do is to bring our thinking in line with the truth of God's word. It's okay to be confused. It's okay to not understand. And it is infinitely okay to REST in the One who is never confused, and understands all things.


  1. Good post, Janet. I love that Lloyd-Jones underscores that it isn't sin to be perplexed.

    BTW, I looked at your blog a couple of weeks ago via Amy's blog (some time ago, you and I kidded around in some comments on her blog--mainly about my wimpiness for only having ten kids, and not twelve!), and began reading Rachel's blog through a link on your blog. However, she hasn't posted since June 1, and I wonder if you have an update. A couple of days after reading her blog, my college-aged daughter was invited to a "girl's night" in which they viewed a video. As she told me about it, I thought it sounded strangely familiar. Little wonder, since it was about Rachel in a video of the same name, i.e., "Death is Not Dying." Sobering stuff, to say the least.

    In proofing this, I find it to be convoluted, but I'm hungry, and tired, and so that will be my excuse.


  2. Cathy, of course I remember you from Amy's blog! I clicked over to your blog - great stuff there. I think I'll spend some time reading it, when I get a moment. (ha!)

    I loved how your hubby ended his letter with the expression, "You done good". That's exactly what my husband would say!

    I have no updates on Rachel Barkey. I imagine she is not well enough to post.

    Thanks for commenting. I am happy to know where you are in cyberspace!

  3. Janet,

    It's so odd. It never dawned on me to click on your name until I saw your comments on Amy's "Parenting Trends and the Gospel" which turned into a blog about homeschooling. When I saw your comment(s), I clicked the link to your name. I have now officially bookmarked your blog. It will take me a while to catch up on your posts, but I dig them.

    And, I'm happy to hear that there is another husband who uses poor grammar intentionally!



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