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ARTICLE: Why Ask Why?

1996Check out CT's latest issues to see how we handle this and other topics today.

In the fall of 1991, Gerald Sittser and his family were returning from a weekend trip when a drunk driver struck their minivan head-on. As a result, he lost his mother, his wife of 20 years, and a four-year-old daughter. He and his three other children escaped relatively unharmed. The following excerpt, condensed from his book "A Grace Disguised" (Zondervan), chronicles a portion of his healing.

My wife, Lynda, and I had a conversation once about an accident reported in our local newspaper. A station wagon with six children and their mother had skidded off the freeway and sunk in six feet of water, killing three of the six children. We both commented nervously that the problem was not simply that something bad had happened to innocent people, but that something bad had happened so randomly. We shivered with fear before the disorderliness of tragedy. If there were going to be suffering, we at least wanted reason for it, predictability to it, and preparation to endure it.

That conversation comes back to me with bitter irony. For the last few years my dominant emotion has been a nervous and doleful bewilderment. A pause at a stop sign, a last-minute switch of seats before departure, a slower or faster acceleration after a turn would have spared us all unspeakable suffering.

I found myself questioning the orderliness of life. While nature displays an orderliness that scientists count on every day, order does not always prevail. At times the universe seems to make about as much sense as a little girl who thinks that her fleeting grudge against a brother is the reason he got measles.

THE TERROR OF RANDOMNESS

One of the worst aspects of my experience of loss has been this sense of sheer randomness. The event was completely outside my ...

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