Recently I found myself in a discussion with a woman about how God could allow a little girl to die. I feel that this issue is one that many struggle with and would be helpful to share. So with her permission, here is how I responded to her questions.
A child’s death certainly raises questions for us all. When my son, Braden, was about seven years old a classmate of his, Austin Scroggins, died. Austin and his brother were killed in a car accident and his mother, Holly, was severely injured by a man who was driving while high on drugs. That tragic event was instrumental in my son receiving Christ. I’m thankful that God brought something good for my family out of that family’s tragedy, but I don’t think that was God’s “plan A.”
When I was in seminary I was taught that God has a “perfect will” and a “permissive will.” In my opinion, God’s “perfect will” would have been that this young little girl would have lived. Many people get hung up at this point because it indicates that God is not sovereign or all powerful. He is, but He allows (permissive will) pain and tragedies in our lives because we live in a fallen world. We live in a fallen world because of sin. That was our choice–to sin. I’m not saying that this little girl’s death resulted because “she” in particular sinned, but because we all live in an imperfect world that was made that way by humanity’s choice to sin.
It’s important to realize that God is sovereign, therefore He had to “allow” this little girl’s death. That doesn’t mean He wanted it or had reasons for it. But God is the Great Redeemer and will use all of our tragedies to bring about good. I don’t know what He will bring that is good out of this. We may not know for a very long time or ever. But it is important to realize that God didn’t necessarily want this to happen, but He allowed it.
Some wonder if God ever calls someone home early, and I think it is possible that God may have a plan to call someone home early. I’m not sure that He ever rejoices in it because I think He knows and feels our pain. And because He loves us, that is grievous to Him as well. Remember how Jesus wept at Lazarus’ funeral (John 11:35)? And He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in just a short time!
As long as we live on earth we will hunger for heaven. Our hunger for heaven creates a desire for justice and perfection. When a child dies, that desire for justice and perfection overwhelms us. But until we die, we will not taste that justice and perfection because it can only be found in heaven. These are just some of the questions and longings that we may never have satisfied this side of heaven. And even though we don’t have all the answers, I do know that God knows when we will die. And God allows us to die at whatever age that is. And God uses any tragedy for our good.