Over the past several months I've received several hundred messages from men who like my online profile on Plenty of Fish. I really haven't done much with any of the messages except read them. I rarely write back - mainly because I'm too tall and I'm too into Jesus - two significant obstacles to meeting a guy when you're a single woman in her thirties in the twenty-first century.
Often the messages are entertaining, as I recently highlighted on my top 10 list. However, not too long ago I received a message far more serious in tone. The message included one simple question and nothing more...
"why did god kill my parents when i was 6?"
I received this message around the time my dad proudly presented to me a picture my aunt had given him and he had framed - a photo of the two of them with their mother when they were kids. "I think this may have been the last picture I had taken with my mom." My dad explained. He stared at his mom with fondness. She died when he was in the 7th grade - when my Dad was 12, and my aunt was 8.
In my book I tell a similar story, of a boy and girl whose mother died before either of them had even entered elementary school. I'll never forget the little boy (age 3 1/3) asking me, just days after his mother's funeral, "Why did Mommy have to go be with God?"
I told him the only answer I had at the time. "I don't know sweetie. I don't know." And then picked him up in my arms.
But in trying to answer the question, "Why did god kill my parents when I was 6?" I'm not sure it's the right question to be asking - valid, yes, but I tend to think it is the brokenness of this world that killed his parents, rather than God setting out to murder them. Instead, the question I would ask is, "Why God? Why didn't you protect this man's parents?" To lose one parent is tragic enough - but to lose both of them at such a young age, no wonder he'd be hesitant to think anything good of God.
And this is where I admit, I'm not going to be able to adequately answer this question in a short blog post. Anything I attempt will fall short, and could potentially do more harm than be helpful. This is more of a conversation - a dialogue - that begins with me saying, "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry that you lost your parents when you were in kindergarten."
I remember when the Minnesota bridge collapsed in 2007, thinking how odd it was to hear reports of how God protected this or that family from the tragedy, while other folks - who loved Jesus just as much - lost their lives as a result of the bridge collapsing. While I received "praise" reports from one friend, I received news of death from another.