Friday, May 01, 2009

Why Do Tragic Accidents Happen?

“Why Do Tragic Accidents Happen?”
A Funeral Meditation for Thomas F. Neidrick
April 28, 2009

Tommy’s accident was tragic. It was a tragedy.

Cut down in the prime of life.

One second full of life–possibilities, and youthful energy.

Then an accident–nothing planned, nothing expected–so sudden.

And the next second, it’s all over. A tragedy. No more possibilities. No more energy. No more life.

The natural question on everyone’s mind is–“WHY?”

Why did this tragic accident happen?

It’s a natural question. A good question–because we want to know why things happen the way they do in God’s world.

And God gives us some answers in His Word.

In this moment of reflection and meditation on God’s Word, the Bible, I want to give three scriptural answers to that pressing question: “Why Do Tragic Accidents Happen?”

Three answers from the Bible that I pray would be helpful to each one here.


God doesn’t always tell us why tragic accidents happen.

It isn’t always for us to know.

Some things God only knows, and He doesn’t tell us.

He tell us that this is true.

In the passage in Isaiah 55 that I read earlier, God says, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (vv.8-9).

God has His own way of thinking, and it’s above and beyond ours.

We wouldn’t understand it if He told us.

I understand this more now that I’m a Father. I tell my kids lots of things, but there are lots of things that they don’t understand–can’t understand yet. And I don’t burden them with information that they can’t grasp.

God is infinitely above and beyond us.

And He is sovereign over all things–even tragic accidents like Tommy’s.

And we can trust that He knows what He’s doing–even if we don’t.

We don’t always know why.

That can actually be comforting, because we don’t have to necessarily figure it all out.

We can just learn to trust Him as our wise Father.

It takes humility and faith, but we don’t need to know why–as long as He does.

But the Bible does say more than just that.


Why do tragic accidents happen?

Because this world that we live in is broken.

It is not the way that it should be.

This world is under a curse.

Since our first parents disobeyed God and led us into rebellion, God has placed a curse on this world so that it does not operate the way it was originally intended.

This world is fundamentally broken.

We all feel that. We say, “This shouldn’t happen!” “It shouldn’t be this way!”

And we’re right. When sin entered the picture, death did, too.

And God placed a curse on this world–so that things are not as they ought to be.

Not yet.

Hurricanes and Tsunamis decimate homes and families.
Swine Flu runs rampant through Mexico.
ATVs run into each other by mistake.

It’s not the way it should be. But it is the way it is because the world is fundamentally broken right now.

The Bible says that this world is subject to “frustration.”

But it won’t be like that forever.

The Bible says that there is coming a day when the curse will be reversed.

There is coming a day when Jesus will make all things new.

Romans 8 says, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21).

God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus are looking forward to a new world!

A world that has no more suffering, no more death, no more frustration.

A world that is the world as it should be!

New heavens, new earth, and new bodies.

That’s what Isaiah 55 was predicting when it talked about “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

“Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.” It’s talking about the thorns and thistles that come with the curse.

One day, when Christ returns, the curse will be reversed!

And everything will be as it should be.

We long for that day.

It helps us to understand Tommy’s accident to understand that it’s part of the bigger story that we find ourselves in–a story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and some day, New Creation.

As difficult as it is to accept, we can know that this is a part of God’s grand plan to restore and reconcile all things to Himself.

And for those who are God’s children by faith in Christ Jesus, we have hope in a New World–a New Heavens and New Earth and New Bodies forever and ever the way it should be.

But what if you are not yet God’s child by faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross?


Tragic accidents happen to call us to repent and to turn to Christ.

This is what Jesus said.

In the Gospel of Luke chapter 13, some people came to Jesus and asked Him what He thought of a tragedy that had happened in their day.

Some people had been terribly mistreated and killed by their oppressors.

And these people probably expected Jesus to condemn those who died as extraordinary sinners that deserved what they got.

But Jesus surprised them. He said, “Do you think that [those people] were worse sinners than all of the other[s] because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent you too will all perish.”

And then He said, “Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Do you hear the tragic accident?

A tower fell on 18 people and killed them all. A tragic accident.

Did that happen because they were extraordinary sinners?

No, it happened because they were ordinary sinners.

And each and every tragic accident is a warning to each of us to repent.

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

There is a fate worse than tragic death–and that is eternal death–the wrath of God on sinners.

And each tragic accident that we see is supposed to be a Wake-Up Call to you and me to turn from our sin and trust and follow the Savior–the Lord Jesus Christ.

One important reason for Tommy’s death was to get your attention.

Are you going to heed the warning?

We don’t all of the reasons for Tommy’s accident.

God doesn’t always tell us why.

We know that it came, in part, because this world is broken--because of our sin--and it isn’t fixed yet like it will be.

But we do know that one important reason for Tommy’s death was to get our attention and to warn us of God’s wrath against sin.

And to call us to repent.

To repent means to turn from our sins and our way of life. We like to do things our way.

To repent means to turn away from doing life our way and following our own path.

And to turn onto His path and trust in His salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus died on the Cross–the perfect sacrifice for our sins–so that we don’t have to die eternally. We don’t have to be cut off from God forever, and subject to His wrath.

He died so that we won’t have to.

And He came back to life to give us life–if we turn (repent) of our ways and trust in Him as our Way, our Truth, and our Life.

But Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Have you repented?

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Are you following Him by faith?

Are you doing things His way?

Tommy’s accident is a wake up call for you.

“Wake up, O Sleeper! Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!”


Matt...Wow! the love and honesty and the Truth of God's Word...Awesome post brother....Praying for you and your friends...

I'm sorry for this young man. ATVs are a plague. So many people get injured or killed on ATVs.

I am very sorry for him, he was a good guy...


My husband was killed 2 years ago. I would like to get the peace back that I once had with God. Right now I see him as the one who killed my husband by not saving him (from a plane crash into the ocean). I dont trust God and I cant pray. I have lost my faith. How do I get it back?

Dear Anonymous,

I can't really imagine the pain and suffering you are experiencing. My heart goes out to you.

The best answer I have for you is to consider the Cross of Jesus Christ. The ultimate in suffering met the ultimate in sinlessness there. He knows what it means to suffer, and His suffering was meaningful. It counts. It means something.

Turn to Christ. Look to Him. Trust Him. He will help you.

I would be glad to talk with you on the phone or to send you some reading materials that could help you. Write me at pastormatt AT lansefree DOT org, and I will get some materials to you.

Praying for you...

-Pastor Matt