If you are a Christian, you may have been asked the question, “Why does God let a child die?” This may have come after a close friend or family member experienced the tragic loss of a loved one. Your response in this situation should be one of love, comfort, and empathy. This post responds to the same question but asked with a different motive. This blog’s emphasis is responding to when a skeptic/non-believer asks you the question in an effort to show that God is either not good for allowing a child to die, or that He does not exist. So, how could you respond when a skeptic asks you, “Why does God let a child die?”

Short Answer: Children die because they are born into a fallen world where there is disease and where people sin and make mistakes.

It is very difficult to watch an elderly person die; let alone a child. But the sad truth is that children experience the effects of this broken world as much as adults. God warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 that if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil “you will surely die.” Just like adults, children die because of Adam and Eve’s decision. Disease is present in our world because God cursed the ground after Adam and Eve sinned. This disease is one of the reasons why children die.

“Children also suffer and die because of the mistakes and sins of others, such as leaving a pool gate unsecured, drunk driving, murder, and so on.”[1] It is important to recognize that it isn’t God taking the lives of children, but it is actually the mistakes and sins of others. We live in a fallen and broken world; people are careless and some chose to do evil. It is a tragedy, but the death of children is sometimes the result of this brokenness.

We also need to realize that there are natural laws at work in our world. “The gravity that keeps us on planet earth also enables fatal falls; the fire that warms also burns; the water in which we swim can also drown.”[2] Try to imagine a world without gravity, fire, water, or anything else that may cause harm to a child. This world would be impossible. In order to have a world that functions, as well as one that sustains us (like with water), there are going to be dangers. The same things that bring life can also cause harm.

Now some may be thinking, why doesn’t God offer special protection for children? In order to respond, we have to think about what would need to happen to make that actually possible. How would God keep children from suffering and dying? In order to prevent any harm to children, God would have to do millions of miracles every day, yet he couldn’t do this “without causing those who don’t want to worship Him to feign loyalty.”[3] God desires for us to freely worship him instead of loving Him only for the benefit.

Thinking that a child should receive special protection raises another question. Until what age should this child be immortal? Should a child receive special protection until they are 12, 16, or maybe 18? What kind of lessons would a child learn if nothing bad happened to them for 18 years and then one day they were mortal all of the sudden? Would they know what it means to be careful? I don’t think so. This type of world just seems unreasonable.

Obviously the topic of a child dying is much more than an intellectual one, it causes great pain. However, it is unreasonable to think that God could prevent all children from dying. Children don’t die because God isn’t loving or because God doesn’t exist. God has chosen the best possible world where there are bad things that happen yet there is also the ability to do great good and learn valuable lessons. For those who believe in the existence of God, there is great comfort in knowing that God will restore this imperfect world and that all death and disease will be conquered.

This is one part in a series of posts on why God allows evil.  Look below to read previous posts that you missed and see what is coming up. Each section will be posted weekly in the order they appear below.

  1. Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?
  2. Why does God let a child die?
  3. How might it be fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?
  4. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  5. Why is eternal punishment fair?
  6. If conscious belief in Jesus is required for salvation, how is that fair to those who have never heard the gospel?
  7. Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.
  8. What good is the suffering I endure?
  9. How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?
  10. Why does God allow evil?

[1] Clay Jones, “Why Did God Let that Child Die?”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.