How Can I Trust God After a Tragedy?

This is an age old question that stymies many people. What kind of God allows bad things to happen? And more importantly, like a child who gets burned after touching a stove, we apt to not want to be hurt a second time. Trust gets more difficult when we are hurting and evil has an opportunity to kick us when we are down and most vulnerable during these times.

St. Ignatius talks about desolation often. And indeed this is exactly where evil wishes to keep us: In a place of hopelessness, where nothing can ever be right again. Our faith tells us otherwise. We don’t have a God that shields us from pain and suffering. In fact, our God embraces our pain and suffering to himself by taking on our likeness and then dying on a cross. In that, God changes death to life and therefore we do not be afraid — for God is able to redeem all of our suffering. Somehow, someway, even when we don’t see this in our lives on earth, we believe that God can and does make all things new again, making a way out of no way.

Our prayer in the face of darkness is not to take away pain…but rather to have the faith that God redeems all suffering. An example for clarity, a friend lost his child to a murder, and while that is horrible, God now holds that child so that no harm will ever come to her again. Her pain and the horror of that day is no more as God redeems that suffering.

Having that kind of faith is what evil hopes to destroy in us. For people of faith, believing in the face of tragedy is where we are most restored.

Mike Hayes is the Director of Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland and a candidate for the Diaconate. He’s also the host of 5 Questions with the Paulists and the podcast Question of Faith. Mike is one of the founders of Busted Halo and has worked with young adults his entire ministry career in retreat, spiritual direction, and campus Ministry. He’s the author of "Googling God" (Paulist, 2007) and "Loving Work" (Orbis, 2012). Mike and his wife Marion live in Lakewood, OH with their dog, Vito.