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This is an excerpt from a letter to someone who was asking why his father had died when he was quite young.

You have asked us to help you find some answer as to why your father died when you were three years old. I don't know how much help we can be with a question like that. There are so many different answers that could be given.

There is, of course, the medical reason why he died. And then there are the circumstances which brought about the medical reason. In other words, if someone dies in a car accident from head wounds, you could say that the reason they died was because of the head wounds. Or you could say that the reason they died was because they (or the driver of the other car) drove too fast, or drove on the wrong side of the road, or failed to give way at an intersection or something.

But I think the answer you want is something much deeper than that.

It is interesting to me that we never have anyone write to us and say that they want to know why they (or some close friend or relative) did not die.

Most of us live day after day like we are going to live forever, with very little thought about death. And then suddenly someone dies, and we react in horror and shock, like it should have never happened.

Obviously some people die at a younger age than others, but we all live with the possibility that we could die at any time. All around us are many threats to our lives: dangerous drivers, political extremists, natural disasters like lightning and earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc. But because we don't think about those things, we often become upset with God when someone dies... as though he owes it to each of us to make us live forever.

On the other hand, if we are humble and sincere, we can ask "Why?" with a different attitude, like asking God what it is that he wants us to learn from the tragedies that we and our loved ones experience. If you ask God a question like that, I think you will be most likely to find the answer. You will probably be able to see some good things that you have learned or experienced as a result of that tragedy. And most important, you will be able to carry on from here to learn even more lessons from that and other tragedies.

I hope that this is of some help in your spiritual walk.

(See also No Pain, No Gain.)

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