March 9, 2011


Yesterday, we tweeted our condolences to the family of Erin Bigler, the Clarence girl who, a day before her 15th birthday, was killed in a bizarre freak accident. We then pulled down our tweet because it just seemed so...inadequate. Oh, don't get us wrong: condolences are due her family. But they just don't really express what we're feeling.

The truth is, a random death from such a strange cause lends a certain appeal to the atheist worldview. After all, what loving God could allow—or, depending on your theological perspective, cause—such a thing to happen? There's just no justice in it.

Yes, we realize that children die everyday around the world. Some from freak accidents. Others from war or famine. Others from disease. But none of that was in play here, and still, a girl died the day before her 15th birthday.

When we turned 15, we were in a hurry to turn 16, to get our learner's permit, to drive a car, to go on dates that didn't require someone's parent driving them. We were eagerly noticing the opposite sex, but still devoting most of our time and energy to our status within our own gender's social circles. We were developing a few friendships that would last a lifetime, and putting too much effort into friendships that wouldn't make it to our high school graduation.

We imagine things were no different for Erin Bigler. After all, it seems she had a safe world to come home to, with loving parents, an intact family, a good community. And yet, a bizarre random accident brought death from above.

The colossal unfairness of it all leaves one reeling.

And, as we said before, it makes the atheist worldview seem that much more reasonable.

If this child's death were to shake our faith in a loving God and an ordered universe—and others' faith—this tragedy would be even more complete.

That's why we're grateful to Erin Bigler and her family today. We read in this morning's Buffalo News that her family had her organs harvested to help others while she remained on life support. An act that selfless amid such tragedy is jarring—but in a fundamentally Good way.

Erin Bigler's death was a tragedy. How her family is coping with it is not. Indeed, their faith in something bigger, whether it be a loving God or just a belief in protecting other innocents from similarly unfair fates, is refreshing. And it's enough to make us not give up our own faith.

We'll be back tomorrow, pondering the things we ponder so often. But today, the most significant thing happening here in Western New York is how one family is coping with tragedy. And they're doing a fantastic job.

So, instead of our condolences, we offer our gratitude and our awe-struck admiration to the Bigler family.

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