Thinking About Tragedy


The news has been horrendous lately. Over 130,000 dead in Myanmar. Bodies floating in the water, disease running rampant, families struggling to survive. The news from China isn’t any better. Over 50,000 dead, millions more left homeless. Little kids trying to find their moms. It hurts just to see it.

I have to confess, I’ve struggled at times as I’ve watched the news. Where is God in all this? Why would he let so many people endure such horrific suffering? What good can possibly come out of this? Questions like these echo in my mind and cause unrest in my heart. I struggle to understand, to comprehend.

But in the midst of my struggle God has met me. I was recently talking to my mom (who is one seriously wise woman) about these struggles and she reminded me of Genesis 18:25, where Abraham says:

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?

I find my heart set at rest when I ponder these words. The truth is, I don’t know why God allows such massive suffering, but I do know that God always does what’s right and good. In the midst of Myanmar, God is doing what’s right. He’s doing what is good and what will bring him the most glory. I get into trouble when I start imposing my view of goodness upon God.

I also find my heart set to rest when I remember the love of God. As I was contemplating these catastrophes, I felt as if God asked me, Stephen, do you believe that I love these people? Do you believe that I love each person that died in these disasters?

Yes, God does deeply care about each person that died. He’s not a cruel, sadistic dictator who takes pleasure in the suffering of others. He killed his son so that we might be saved, and he cares about the souls of those in China.

So I’ll fight to rest my heart in the righteousness of God and the love of God. That’s the only place where I can find peace.

Want to know how to pray for Myanmar and China? Read John Piper’s 6 Ways to React to the Cyclone.

+photo by Dade [rebirth]

  • Emily

    Thanks Stephen,
    these thoughts are very helpful as I have been processing through the same issues.

    Its a very good reminder to hear that God loves all the folks in Myanmar and China that are suffering as a result of these disasters.

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Emily – Tragedy is so tough to process. I’m glad you found this post helpful…

  • Brittany Vaughn

    I understand where you’re coming from, tragedies such as these are hard for the human mind to comprehend. I felt much the same way when I heard about Steven Cutris Chapman’s 5 year old daughter that passed away Tuesday. They’re oldest son was pulling out of the driveway and didn’t see her. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like for the family, especially him!

    It’s moments like these when I rejoice that we have a God that reunite us with our lost loved ones again one day. Okay, lost isn’t the right word, I believe that anybody who’s with the lord in Heaven is certainly in the right place.

    Thank you for posting this, it’s a comfort to know that everyone struggles with not be able to understand these tragedies and what God has in store for those left behind because of them.