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Where is God in Tragedy? Where is God in Tragedy?

Where is God in Tragedy?

Wednesday night, Isaiah and Meghan Carter had been driving a long time across country to get home. The two lanes of Clark’s Bridge Road were dark, but familiar. Ten more minutes of driving and they could throw themselves into bed. Suddenly, cresting a hill, Isaiah saw the headlights of a c…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Wednesday night, Isaiah and Meghan Carter had been driving a long time across country to get home. The two lanes of Clark’s Bridge Road were dark, but familiar. Ten more minutes of driving and they could throw themselves into bed.

Suddenly, cresting a hill, Isaiah saw the headlights of a car coming right at them. A driver had pulled out to pass a line of cars in their lane. Isaiah and Meghan barely had time to brace themselves.

Meanwhile, Colby Gardner was having a normal quiet evening at his home on Clark’s Bridge Road. Like Isaiah and Meghan, Colby had gone on the World Race and had moved to Gainesville after returning home. He was winding down his day.

“I heard a terrific crash out on the road,” he said. “Two cars had collided head on. Both were a tangle of metal. And my first thought was, ‘Everyone is dead.’ It was horrible. I ran over to one car and looked inside. Blood was everywhere.”

Colby called 911 and then went to the two occupants, now sitting on the grass. They were clearly in shock. He tried to comfort the couple, neither of whom he recognized. He laid hands on their shoulders and began to pray for them.

Isaiah had a gash above his nose and a broken ankle. Meghan’s injuries were much worse. But through the confusion and pain, Isaiah heard a familiar voice. He looked up and there, like an angel, was his friend. “Colby?” He said. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you’re here.”

It was then that Colby recognized Isaiah through the blood. “Isaiah?”

Later as he was in the ambulance, Isaiah was talking to the EMT. Again, there was a flash of recognition. It was another racer who he had spent a month with in South Africa – Andrew Lilly. And as they sped to the hospital, Isaiah sensed God in the pain.

*     *     *     *

Two days later, after brain surgery, it looks like Meghan will live. Though she has been sedated, the bleeding on the brain has stopped. The swelling has gone down. They will operate on her broken femur tomorrow.

So many things about the accident seem senseless. But God’s love has shown up for them in startling, deep ways. They’ve experienced the love of God as their friends and family raised $55,000 on GoFundMe. Isaiah’s parents drove through the night and were there to hug him in the morning.

If you know Isaiah and Meghan, you won’t be surprised at this outpouring of love. They exude the love of Christ. Everyone loves them.

But you can’t help asking, “How could God allow this terrible thing to happen to them?” And I agree with you. All my life I see bad things like this happening to good people. I can’t help wanting to ask God this question.

What I’ve seen is that the things that happen may not make sense to me, but God is in the business of taking all that is inexplicable and sad – everything that makes us doubt that he is in control and cares – and he redeems it. This is the bridge from senseless events to an intentional God.

We can’t tell you yet why this would happen to a couple as sweet and loving as Isaiah and Meghan. But over and over again, I have seen Jesus showing up in tragedy. You ask, “Where is he in that place of horror and pain?”

And I have seen that inevitably, he is there in unexpected, redemptive ways. He is there as his children bring his presence to the pain. To those like Isaiah, in a world that is suddenly shattered, he looks like Andrew Lilly in the ambulance. He looks like Colby Gardner, praying for comfort at a time when comfort is needed most.

Comments (15)

  • Hard things have a way of striping you down to the essentials. They align what you say you believe with what you actually believe. They bring up all kinds of impossible questions and drop you off at a place of surrender. Long roads require dependence on the only one who can carry you the whole way. He is carrying them now and will be even after the immediacy of their circumstances fades away and friends go back to their usual lives. He is with them. Always was and always will be.

  • You’re right, it can be challenging when we face these times of tragedy and our lives have turned out so much different then we “planned” BUT GOD….without Him working through the tragedy we would have no hope. Isaiah and Meghan are two of the sweetest children of God I’ve met and it is difficult to fathom the destruction that has happened. BUT…so thankful Colby was there. So thankful they were close to a hospital and not out in the middle of nowhere. So thankful for connections all over the world who are praying for this couple and their baby.

    David knew tragedy. He knew pain. Yet he penned in Psalm 27 ….”I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” and Psalm 34:17-18…when holy lovers of God cry out to Him with all their hearts, the Lord will hear them and come to rescue them from ALL their troubles. The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and He is always ready to RESTORE the repentant one. Even when bad things happen to the good and Godly ones, the Lord will SAVE them and not let them be defeated by what they face.” (TPT)

    Thank you, Seth for giving a place for people to pray for each other. Thank you for speaking truth and allowing space for others to share without judgement.

    As their GoFundMe page shows close to $40k this morning…may their be many more prayers, emotional support and practical help for them as well.

  • Powerful. We do well to go to our heart not a wandering head when imponderable questions are posed. It was so good to be with you, Karen, Leah and your mom. We need each other.

  • God works in mysterious ways. Thanks for sharing and they now have another Prayer warrior on their team! GOD IS GOOD!

  • Wow, thanks Seth for sharing this and helping us see how God moves in the midst of tragedy and pain. Praying for the whole Carter family.

  • Thanks for the deets and for shouting His goodness despite tragedy!

    I was really wondering how the other car occupant(s) were! Happy to hear it seems not too bad!

    Any news on Megs baby???/Hows the baby!

  • Thank you for sharing this. So great that those WR people were there to comfort right from the beginning! God is able to take what the enemy means for evil and turn it to good.

  • A few minutes ago I received a text. The news about my friend’s cancer was what we had dreaded – it’s already in multiple organs.
    Car wrecks. Disease. Violence. Where is God? Immanuel. God is with us.
    In seasons life can be confusing, distressing, painful. But like Job, we can know that our Redeemer lives, and He never stops redeeming to the very end.

  • Wow, what a comforting reminder that God has His hand in everything, especially in the middle of the storm. Praying for the great physician to heal this couple and knowing that He will be glorified through it!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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