“Why did God take my parents from me?”

“Why did God take my parents from me?”

This question from a Junior High/Middle School student, asked at a Christian camp just a few short weeks ago.

One of the many things I LOVE about junior highers is the raw emotion that lies just beneath the surface of so much of what they do and say. There is no pretense with these young teens. They haven’t yet perfected the game-playing the characterizes so many of us older people. What you see is more often than not what you get. They are real. And so many of them are really hurting.

I cannot even begin to imagine the wounds behind the 8 words that this one student would ask of God is he or she knew that He would give them an absolutely honest answer.

And while I am a pitifully poor substitute for God, I do have a sense of how I believe God would have answered that question, and will share that answer now as if I am talking directly to the student.

Death is an intruder in the human race. When God first created the world and pronounced it “good,” no one died. No one needed to die. Death was a foreign concept. An unwelcome guest. Not even an entry in the dictionary of human conversation.

When God one day (sooner rather than later, I think) recreates this world, the first thing God will banish from the “New Heaven and the New Earth” is death. Through the pen of the Apostle John, God declared for all the world (and you and me) to hear,

“God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain. These things of the past are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4).

I do definitely believe that God would tell you that when your parents died, it was as if a part of His heart died right along with them. Just as Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, so Jesus wept when your parents tragically left this earth. In fact, the tears that you are now shedding in remembrance of your parents God is storing up in a bottle, and counting every one (Psalm 56:8). No tear is ever shed without God knowing about it, and grieving right along with us. Right along with you.

There is a theme that runs through the Bible. It’s not particularly obvious. We have to dig a little deeper to discover it. But once we do, it’s amazing how often we will see this theme repeated throughout the unfolding biblical story.

The theme is this: Whenever someone loses one or both parents prematurely (through death, or divorce, or some equally painful family tragedy), and is therefore forced to grow up in the absence of one or both parents, it is proof-positive that God has a very special plan and purpose for that individual. A special plan and purpose for you!

I really want you to hear that. So let me repeat this all-important sentence: 

Whenever someone loses one or both parents prematurely (through death, or divorce, or some equally painful family tragedy), and is therefore forced to grow up in the absence of one or both parents, it is proof-positive that God has a very special plan and purpose for that individual. A special plan and purpose for you!

Think of the people whom God mightily used in Scripture. Almost without exception, he or she was someone who lost one or both parents at a relatively young age.

Abraham left his homeland and most of his family when he made the move from Ur to Israel. While en route to the Promised Land, his beloved dad died. Abraham settled in Beersheba and started his new life without the benefit of a mom or dad to guide the way. Just think about how much God used Abraham, whom He later referred to as, “the friend of God” (James 2:23). Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Abraham, didn’t He? There never would have been a Jesus if there wasn’t first an Abraham.

Joseph’s beloved mom died when he was a younger boy. He was then betrayed by his brothers. As a consequence of that betrayal, as a teen Joseph was removed from his home, taken captive to a foreign land, and forced first to live as a slave, and later as an incarcerated criminal for a crime he never committed. Joseph did nothing to deserve any of this. Just when it seemed like Joseph needed his dad the most, he couldn’t reach him. But he could reach God. And God eventually used Joseph to save his people from the starvation of a famine that threatened to wipe them out. Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Joseph, didn’t He? There never would have been a Jesus if there wasn’t first a Joseph.

Moses was forced by circumstances beyond his control to be raised by a woman who was not his mom. He, like Joseph, grew up apart from both his parents. Yet, Moses is the central figure of the Old Testament, the deliverer of God’s people from 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and is considered even today the single most important individual in the minds and hearts of the Jewish people. And for good measure, “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Moses, didn’t He? There never would have been a Jesus if there wasn’t first a Moses.

Ruth married a young man whose dad had died when he was still living in his home. After their marriage, he died, leaving Ruth a widow. She might have been without a husband, but she was never without God. Ruth adopted the Jewish people as her own people, and their God as her God. And believe it or not, Ruth became the great grandmother of King David, the direct descendant of Jesus. Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Ruth, didn’t He? There never would have been a Jesus if there wasn’t first a Ruth.

Esther saved the Jewish people from certain annihilation. Of Esther’s childhood we read, “When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). To this day, she is a hero of the Jewish people, and rightly so. Every year on Purim, her story is read, and every little Jewish girl dresses up in costume as Queen Esther. Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Esther, didn’t He? There never would have been a Jesus if there wasn’t first an Esther.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here? It’s everywhere in the Bible! You are not alone!

Of course, I could go on and on with example after example. But my space and your time is limited. So I’ll give you just one more.

Jesus lost his dad, Joseph, when he was growing up. Joseph is not mentioned again after Jesus was twelve. As Jesus hung on that old rugged cross, He stopped dying long enough to provide for the care of His widowed mom, Mary. He asked His beloved apostle, John, to take her into his home because Joseph had long since died. Yes, God certainly had a powerful plan for Jesus, didn’t He?

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, get this! God has granted to you a very special, precious, and unique relationship with Him that only comes to those who have lost one or both of their natural parents. And just to punctuate this point, God even calls Himself, “A father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5).

Oh, and BTW (by the way), FWIW (for what it’s worth), one final thought: You are reading the words of a guy who, as a teenager, lost his dad too (to divorce, abandoning my mom, two younger sisters, and me), and not too long after that, to death. So trust me, I “get it.”

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12 thoughts on ““Why did God take my parents from me?”

  1. Donna

    My dad died on my twelfth birthday …my mom remarried an abusive man 3 mos later …my only sister and I went a wayward path .As a result my only sister was brutally murdered.I lost all faith turned away from God am now 57 years old alone and suicidal almost homeless financial burdens .I want to blame god .

    • Donna, I can’t begin to imagine what you have been through.I lost my mom in July. That was heart-rending enough. But with all that resulted in your life from your loss is more than anyone should have to bear. I am so sorry, Donna. So, so sorry.

  2. michael

    My dad died when I was 4 and my mom died 2 months I’m 19 so its kind of hard to believe that there is a god when you’re constantly dealing with loss.

    • No child should have to lose a parent, let alone both parents. I am so sorry, Michael. Having just lost my mom, I can only begin to understand your pain.

  3. andrew c

    My dad committed suicide in January. I found him, it was and is the worst thing i have ever seen and have had to go through. I know God has a plan, plans to prosper and not to harm plans for hope and future jeremiah 29 v 11 i thi nk…it doesnt make it any easier though honestly. My dad did what he did because he thought he was ruining my life because of one single mistake he made. It all happended so fast, he accepeted christ the day before he passed….i really hope with all of my heart….i believe with all of my heart in Gods promises…so i look to the day that God will bring a new heaven and new earth where there is no death…i look to the day God restores every tear that has run down my face since my dad died 4 months ago…i still cant believe he is gone and the images are still so horrific and heart breaking…there are days i dont want to live…but i have a daughter and i never want her to experience the pain I an in now. I hope God will reveal his great great plan for me, otherwise this tragedy, this loss, my dads sacrifice will all be for what?
    God please help me…please comfort me…please deliver me…

    • Venkatesh

      Thanks for the article Mr Dewey and so very sorry to hear your experiences Donna, Michael and Andrew. May God comfort your hearts and hold them close to His.

  4. Betty

    I lost my father and then 3 days later after burying him! I lost my mother. They were fairly young at 72 and 73. It was not from a broken heart, but a broken health system. I cry daily and ask God why to no avail. My faith diminished from time to time and no amount of time seems to help. None…. alone and scared is how i feel every hour of the day. Prayers needed.

  5. Jane

    Betty, I lost both of my parents when I was 4 years old. I have felt alone all my life. I am now 71 years old. Sorry for your loss, I know how you must feel!

    • Betty

      Hi Dewey, thank you for your kind response. I am sorry you had your loss at such a young age. I am 47 and I feel like an orphan. Sounds ridiculous yet true. I hope that you were blessed with a family to step in their place. For whatever reason, God took your parents to be with him and while it is not fully understood to leave a child as an orphan at 4 years old, I hope that he blessed you through the years.

  6. Megan

    I’ve read the question & read your answer & I’m halfway between laughing out loud at the absurdity of your answer & hoping there is some truth in your answer.

    While we grope around in the dark looking for answers to why people die young…either children with bereaved parents or parents with bereaved children….your answer that we must be very special & have a special purpose in life sounds like from the mind of a raving lunatic. A child would not even be able to comprehend what you are saying here. They would only know grief. Try as I might to understand this I can’t. My mother died when she was only 41 & I was a week short of my 18th birthday. I’ve never known her as an adult nor ever been able to do anything for her. My father was a man not to be respected..ever…so the biblical command to honour your parents falls down in the face of abuse. I’ve tried & tried to follow God, to be a Christian, to give other people hope, to encourage others in their faith yet there is always a part of me holding back….to safeguard myself from further abuse….that of a false hope…the worst kind of abuse there could ever possibly be.

  7. Bridget

    Thank you so much for such heart-soothing words in this article. Honestly losing a mom is one of the worst things i have had to deal with the rest of my life. It has been 18 years now but still the wounds havent healed, but i keep trusting God for total recovery. Otherwise keep on comforting the wounded souls.

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